MANILA - An initial review of "Oplan Tokhang" documents released by the Office of the Solicitor General showed that police used a "template" of "nanlaban" cases in majority of its reports, a group of lawyers said Thursday.
This after the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) acquired copies of reports covering 29 killings so far from the OSG on orders of the Supreme Court.
Of the said reports, 23 police documents used strikingly similar descriptions of killings, said FLAG Chair Chel Diokno.
“Template cut-and-paste 'nanlaban' cases na halos pare-pareho na ginagamit na lenggwahe sa mga reports," said the longtime human rights lawyer.
(The language in the reports are strikingly similar "nanlaban" cases.)
"They raise a lot of questions. They cannot all be the same, if every case is unique in its facts, why are the reports so similar in terms of their language?" he added.
Majority of the police reports read: “The suspect, upon sensing that he was transacting (or dealing) with police officers, suddenly drew his firearm and shot them but missed. Sensing that his life was in imminent danger, (the police officer) returned fire.”
FLAG was able to acquire copies of the police reports after the Supreme Court ordered the OSG to release to petitioners documents related to Oplan Tokhang, government's controversial house-to-house knock-and-plead operations against drug suspects.
Two petitions are currently pending in the high court questioning the constitutionality of the government’s war on drugs, including one where FLAG lawyers serve as counsel.
In the reports, the group also found that none of the drugs seized by police were ever turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and instead were brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory.
Under the law, PDEA must have custody of all dangerous drugs confiscated, seized and/or surrendered in anti-drug operations.
PDEA, however, clarified that the PNP may also take custody of illegal drugs pending court order for a turnover.
The reports further showed that police closed 14 cases involving 18 victims.
In 8 cases involving 12 victims, the police investigator recommended the closure of the cases, without prejudice to reopening the cases should evidence arise.
In 5 cases, police investigators recommended that police officers involved be absolved of any criminal and administrative liability.
FLAG also found that two cases showed that the same firearm was used to kill different persons.
The PNP meantime refused to comment since it has yet to see FLAG's findings.
"We will react on the basis of their findings, kung talagang kinakailangan o mandohan kami ng korte (if necessary or if we are required by court)," Police Director General Oscar Albayalde said.
- report from Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News