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Gov’t committed to int’l human rights standards: DOJ

By Benjamin Pulta / Philippine News Agency

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has assured the United Nations (UN) that the country's campaign on illegal drugs is waged under commitments to international human rights standards.

In his online message to the UN Joint Program on Human Rights on Sunday night, Guevarra said "the Philippine government reiterates its commitment to fulfill its international obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights of our citizens without fear, favor or prejudice consistent with our Constitution and the interests and welfare of the Filipino people".

The DOJ chief said it is working with other government agencies in bringing human rights violations to justice and reiterated the President's assurance of "open and substantive engagement with the United Nations".

Administrative Order (AO) No. 35, which investigates gross violation of human rights and humanitarian law, holds accountable humanitarian law violations by terror groups long known to recruit minors and use prohibited weapons, such as anti-personnel mines, Guevarra said.

"Presently, the AO 35 mechanism is investigating 1,500 complaints of alleged violations of humanitarian law mostly committed by communist terrorist groups," Guevarra said.

Cases of illegal drugs are part of AO 35 probes, citing that PHP60 billion in confiscated contrabands substantiate concerns about the extent of the problem.

"The sheer volume of the drugs seized confirms the gravity of the threats that our communities face from illegal drugs," Guevarra said.

The DOJ is also working closely with police and other government bodies to look into possible incidents of human rights violations.

"Our government continued to provide rehabilitation and reintegration programs to assist persons who use drugs in their recovery. More importantly, the entire government has continually reassessed and strengthened its policy and institutional frameworks in our resolute and committed effort to ensure that the pursuit of justice, accountability, and the rule of law remain integral elements of our country's anti-drug campaign," he said.

The DOJ, Guevarra reported, had gained access to 52 cases investigated by the Philippine National Police’s Internal Affairs Service.

The cases involve findings of police personnel allegedly involved in misconduct. (PNA)



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