Crime & Justice

Philippines probes deaths during Duterte’s drug war

Manila, Dec 8 (EFE).- The Philippines National Bureau of Investigation has begun looking into the death certificates of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” that appear to have been wrongly recorded as having died a natural death.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the NBI is studying nine cases of death certificates that appear to be inconsistent with the actual cause of death, according to local media reports on Thursday.

The announcement follows the decision of a Manila court to grant the petition of the father of 9-year-old Lenin Baylon, a boy killed by stray bullets during a police anti-drug raid in December 2016, to correct the cause of death on his death certificate from bronchopneumonia to gunshot wound.

Remulla said this case and others like it could amount to falsification.

Forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun, who has personally investigated some of these deaths in recent months, told EFE on Thursday by phone that she “would like a serious investigation, because there many doctors involved – my profession is in question.”

Remulla said that cases the NBI is investigating include remains exhumed by a program led by priest Flavie Villanueva and autopsied by Fortun.

The investigations of Villanueva and Fortun revealed that seven cases appeared to have died of gunshot wounds when their medical certificates indicated natural causes, ABS-CBN said.

“I don’t know if the investigations will be transparent and fair, but at least the new Department of Justice is doing something. No such action in the past administration,” Fortun told EFE.

Since former president Rodrigo Duterte was elected in June 2016, anti-drug operations supported by his government have claimed the lives of some 30,000 people, according to several NGOs, deaths that are being investigated by the International Criminal Court for possible crimes against humanity. EFE

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