Gov’t. addresses issues of extra-judicial killings: DOJ

03 August 2022

The State, through its duly constituted authorities, have adequately provided institutional measures to address the occurrences of extra-judicial killings even in the past administrations.

As early as 2007, then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, through AO 181, created a Task Force against political violence. This is to mobilize government agencies and non-government groups to curb violence and killings.

Further, under AO 211, the whole-of-government approach was adopted where different agencies were tasked to address these occurrences not only through focused and vigorous prosecution but through programs to care and protect communities victimized by violence with the strategic deployment of law enforcement agents, and promotion of culture opposed to violence through multi-sectoral cooperation.

Thereafter, additional measures against the perpetrators of violence were institutionalized by government, under then-President Benigno C. Aquino III, through AO 35 creating the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) against extra-legal killings, disappearances and other violators of the right to life and security of persons. Additionally, AO 1 was issued to focus on the protection of media workers against violence.

Since the IAC was created in 2012, it has taken the effort to build up cases for 295 extra-legal killings. However, the lack of witnesses has greatly hampered the swift prosecution of cases especially when the occurrence are attributable to non-state agents such as armed groups and lawless elements.

However, insofar as alleged criminal case attributable to uniformed personnel, criminal cases have proceeded and at least 18 Police and AFP personnel have been convicted for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Additionally, 17 other cases against civilians have led to convictions and punished by reclusion perpetua.

The cases of 52 individuals covered by “Task Force 52 Nanlaban Cases” have also been duly acted upon by the Department with the assistance of the NBI. The case build-up and prosecution have been completed for 7 cases against PNP personnel. Cases for murder have been properly filed in the courts and we believe the evidence culled will be sufficient to hold them for conviction.

These cases involve incidents of killing in the NCR, Agusan del Sur, Western Mindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, CARAGA region and MIMAROPA.

These occurrences therefore do not happen unabated and ignored as the government had been, is and continue to be present and in control. We have proven that through the whole-of-government approach, the State is capable of curbing violence and extra-legal killings, and exacting justice from the perpetrators. But the effort cannot be left to government alone. The multi-sectoral approach is more appropriate so that communities may be better protected from violence.

Please note that the majority of extra-legal killings are not perpetrated by state operatives but are attributable to armed groups, including local terrorist groups and other lawless elements. It should be noted that because of the whole government approach, the extra-legal killings in the last two years are already few and far between.

In fact, based on records, there are no enforced disappearances and alleged torture cases in the last 5 years.

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