Crime & Justice

Philippine police officer sentenced for double murder during drug war

Manila, Mar 14 (EFE).- An ex-Philippines police officer has been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for the murder of two teenagers during the bloodiest months of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Jefrey Sumbo Perez, 40, was found guilty of murdering Reynaldo Kulot de Guzman, 14, and Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, on August 17, 2017 according to the conviction ruling made on March 1, but leaked to the press on Monday.

Carlos Conde, director of Human Rights Watch in the Philippines, said in remarks to Efe Tuesday that he welcomed the news but added there were “thousands of cases” still pending investigation and that could go unpunished.

A second Caloocan agent, who also stood accused of the double murder, Ricky Arquilita, died in police custody in 2019.

The policemen had accused the two young men of drug trafficking and armed resistance, claiming that Arnaiz had hijacked a taxi and shot at them as they tried to stop him, which was later proven false.

On November 24, another Manila court sentenced Perez to ‘reclusion perpetua,’ or permanent imprisonment, for torture and handed him two life sentences for falsifying evidence.

In the Philippines, there are two severe penalties: life imprisonment and permanent imprisonment, which is a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 40 years in prison.

This is the second trial to convict police officers for extrajudicial crimes during Duterte’s violent anti-drug campaign.

Three police officers were found guilty in November 2018 for the murder of 17-year-old Kyan delos Santos in August 2017.

The Philippine department of justice has maintained that its judicial system can address the country’s problems and has said that there is no mechanism to support the entry of the International Criminal Court to probe alleged crimes against humanity during Duterte’s term.

HRW’s Conde disagrees, however.

He told Efe that the fact that this is only the second conviction against a police officer demonstrated “the exact opposite.”

The brutal anti-drugs operations ordered by Duterte between 2016 and 2022 left around 27,000 dead following bloody police raids conducted amid a climate of impunity, NGOs say.

The official death toll offered by authorities in the Philippines is 6,200. EFE


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