CHR probe finds evidence of EJK in Bertes case

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2017 04:50 PM

A woman weeps over the body of her husband, who was killed on a street by a vigilante group, according to police, in a spate of drug-related killings in Pasay City. Czar Dancel, Reuters

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is now investigating almost 600 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings (EJKs) under the Duterte administration, and it has found strong evidence in one of its on-going cases.

Lawyer Jacqueline De Guia, the CHR's spokesperson, said they are now assisting more than 600 alleged victims of extra-judicial killings, including that of the Berteses, a father-and-son case.

"Nagkaroon ng resolusyon sa piskalya, although hindi pa ito final dahil mayroong MR [motion for reconsideration] na finile, kaya lang lumalabas doon sa resolusyon na binigyang halaga yung autopsy na isinagawa ng Komisyon ng Karapatang Pantao sa pamamagitan ng protection office particular na yung aming forensic center," De Guia said.

"Dito napatunayan na mayroon ngang isang insidente ng extra- judicial killing at napatunayan na ito’y sumasalungat sa bersyon ng mga pulis doon sa naturang insidente," she added.

A police report said Renato Bertes, and his son, JP, were arrested for drug possession in their neighborhood in Pasay City on July 6, 2016. They were shot dead inside a police station the following day after allegedly grappling for the gun of a police officer.

But JP's common-law wife, Harra Kazuo, gave in a Senate hearing in August a different story during the lawmakers' investigation into President Duterte's bloody campaign against illegal drugs. 

She said her 29-year-old partner was already planning to surrender to authorities and was no longer keeping drugs on the night of the raid. 

Kazuo also said three police officers, who had no search warrant, barged into their home on the night of July 6, demanding to know where JP was hiding drugs. She claimed that the three were the same officers who previously extorted money from their family in exchange for dropping charges against JP, who she admitted was a former drug peddler. 

De Guia said the CHR is still in the process of evaluating other witnesses for other cases as well as the pieces of evidence that were collected.

"Patuloy ang pag-analyze ng data at pagsusuri para malaman kung may insidente ng EJK or wala," she said.

De Guia said 95 to 98 percent of alleged extra-judicial killings were investigated by the CHR on their own initiative.

"May mga ilang kaso na maaring nai-file na, kaya lang karamihan, pending investigation pa, depende iyon sa hangarin ng pamilya o kaya sa amount of evidence that was present at that time," she said.

De Guia said the CHR is open to any group or individual who wishes to use the information they have for legal purposes. 

Atty. Jude Sabio, counsel for self-confessed hitman of the Davao Death Squad Edgar Matobato, had previously said he will employ some data from the CHR when he files a case against President Duterte at the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

"Sa lahat ng tao at mga grupo na magnanais na kumuha ng datos sa CHR, handa naman ang komisyon na magbigay tulong dahil bahagi na rin ito ng public service at mandato ng komisyon," De Guia said.

She added that so far, the commission has not received any pressure from the Duterte administration to desist from investigating extrajudicial killings or providing information for any legitimate purposes.

"Naiintindihan naman ng administrasyon na ang CHR ay independent constitutional office at ginagalang nito ang mandato ng CHR at naintindhan naman ng administrasyon na ginagawa lamang ng CHR ang kanyang trabaho," she said.