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THE COMMISSION on Human Rights (CHR) has urged President Duterte to start filing cases against the judges, mayors and police officers he has accused of protecting drug lords. CHR Chair Jose Luis “Chito” Gascon said that a week after the President had come out with a list of 159 narcopoliticos in public, he had not filed a case in court, which would have provided them a way to defend themselves from his blanket accusation.
“The Constitution establishes a system of justice and rule of law that requires both due process and presumption of innocence guarantees, among others,” Gascon said. “Thus, when a crime has either been or is alleged to have been committed, law enforcement must conduct an investigation with a view to charging the accused in the proper forum so a hearing could be conducted whereby the evidence would be considered to establish either the guilt or innocence of the same,”
Gascon said. Even the President himself conceded he did not have evidence or cases against the people he named from his list. “It might be true. It might not be true,” said Duterte, who promised to file administrative or criminal cases against those he named. But a week after his public expose, the President had yet to file cases against the alleged drug coddlers who had been publicly shamed by the sweeping accusations.
Executive vs judiciary The President merely ordered the pullout of the bodyguards and cancellation of firearms of the accused mayors while the police were told to report to their mother units, and the judges to report to the Supreme Court.
The President also had a spat with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who told the judges he named to wait for an arrest warrant before surrendering. Sereno said the “premature announcement of an informal investigation” on alleged drug links would render “the judge veritably useless in discharging his adjudicative role.”
Gascon has also been the target of the ire of the President, who declared he would ignore Gascon in his fight against illegal drugs. “I stress once more that this mandate he assumes includes the duty to guarantee human rights for all,” said Gascon. Ifugao Rep.
Teddy Baguilat said the President’s failure to follow up his sweeping accusations with cases showed that he was just out on a “witch-hunt” with no specific end goal.
“After naming and causing them embarrassment, next is to file cases, especially when there is strong evidence. If there are no cases filed and no one among these people prosecuted and jailed, then what we had was a witch hunt. Or worse, we momentarily stopped the drug trade but left it open for a resurgence in the future,” said Baguilat. TVJ