The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has signed the joint Operational- Guidelines that will ensure cooperation of prosecutors and law enforcement investigators in the investigation, case build-up, inquest and preliminary investigation and trial of cases pertaining to political activist and media killings.
The Operational Guidelines implements Administrative Order No. 181 series of 2007. Said AO seeks to ensure the cooperation and coordination between the National Prosecution Service (NPS) and other concerned agencies of government for the successful investigation and prosecution of political and media killings.
"This effort to converge knowledge, experience, talents and resources of officers from two separate departments to ensure convictions of political and media killings germinated during the time of the late Sec. Jesse Robredo," explained Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. "I am most thankful that the zealousness and commitment to address these crimes that have serious implications on the exercise of Constitutional rights are mirrored and shared by Sec. Mar Roxas," explained De Lima.
An innovative feature of the Operational Guidelines is that the cooperation between prosecutors and law enforcement investigators begin as early as the case build-up and evidence-gathering after an incident has been assessed to be a possible political activist or media killing. A group of prosecutors and law enforcement investigators coming from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), shall be convened to identify the witnesses, assist in the preparation of their affidavits and evaluate the Scene of the Crime Report and the other physical or object evidence necessary in the filing of the case with the prosecution office concerned.
After the termination of the investigation, the group shall file the proper complaint before the City/Provincial Prosecutors office. Notwithstanding such referral, the group will continue to convene for the purpose of evaluating and gathering additional evidence necessary to further strengthen the case.
After inquest or preliminary investigation, where there is a finding of probable cause, a resolution is prepared to be approved by the Prosecutor General or City/Provincial Prosecutor. Upon approval, the transmittal to the appropriate Office of the Clerk of Court is undertaken stating therein that the case is either a political-activist or media killing, as provided under Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 25-2007, and, therefore, should be raffled to any of the designated special courts.
As far as practicable, the Prosecutor General or the City/Provincial Prosecutor shall create a panel composed of prosecutors who handled the investigation, inquest/preliminary investigation and trial for the purpose of conducting the actual prosecution of the political-activist/media killing case.
"The adoption of these Operational Guidelines runs parallel to the efforts of the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons to, not only come up with a credible list of these egregious human rights violations, but more importantly, to ensure the successful prosecution of such cases," De Lima pointed out.
The IAC was created by Administrative Order No. 35 which was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III last 22 November 2012. De Lima explained that the IAC, which is the successor of Task Force 211, and to which both DOJ and DILG are members of, will also come up with an Omnibus Operational Guidelines that will rely heavily on the processes of the DOJ-DILG Guidelines as the same were formulated after an in-depth consultation with, and validation by, law enforcement investigators and prosecutors.