The Philippines: Duterte: Not all drug war records can be opened

  • The government cannot release all records of the controversial war on drugs because of “national security” issues, President Duterte said on 1 Jun 21 as he urged human rights groups to be careful in assessing deaths linked to the campaign.
  • Duterte said drug syndicates could have also orchestrated the killings.
  • He said rights advocates could check police records on joint law enforcement operations from a “healthy distance,” but some details like the sources of information should remain confidential.
  • It’s a national security issue,” the President said during a meeting of the government’s pandemic task force on 31 May 21.
  • Duterte said government forces inform him about “big personalities” but their location and the manner by which they would be arrested are “none of my business really as President.”
  • He issued the statement after the Philippine National Police (PNP) allowed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to access 61 anti-drug campaign cases, a move that drew praise from various sectors, including the Commission on Human Rights.
  • Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President was not referring to the information-sharing between the two agencies.
  • Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the DOJ would keep in mind Duterte’s concern on national security when reviewing cases related to the anti-drug war.
  • As for the 61 cases, Guevarra said these are criminal matters, more of a criminal nature than a national security concern.
  • He gave assurance that when the DOJ and PNP examine the 61 cases, they would “play it by ear.”

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