In a rare conviction of one of the enforcers of the drug crackdown, a Philippine police officer was found responsible for the deaths of two teens during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte, according to court documents released on Tuesday.
Duterte publicly instructed police to shoot drug suspects dead if their lives or the lives of other officers were in jeopardy during his six-year administration, which concluded in June 2022.
According to official statistics, at than 6,200 persons lost their lives as a result of the anti-drug campaign, but rights organizations believe the true number to be in the tens of thousands.
Prior to the crackdown, only three police officers had been found guilty of killing a suspect. This led to an investigation at the International Criminal Court.
According to a judgement viewed by AFP, a Manila court found Jeffrey Perez guilty of killing Reynaldo De Guzman, 14, and Carl Arnaiz, 19, in 2017.
Perez received a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison.
He was previously incarcerated for a significant amount of time after being convicted in November of torturing the two youngsters by a different court.
Police officer Ricky Arquilita, his co-defendant, passed away during the initial trial. Both disputed the accusations.
On August 17, 2017, De Guzman and Arnaiz were last spotted together.
A witness testified during the trials that he observed a police car parked on the side of the road and saw Arnaiz exit the vehicle while shackled and yelling “I will surrender” before the cops shot him.
Weeks later, De Guzman’s body was discovered in the area north of Manila. It was stabbed numerous times.
After Duterte, President Ferdinand Marcos promised to continue the drug battle but put an emphasis on education and treatment.
Yet, rights organizations assert that while he was in office, the murders persisted.
Because its pre-trial chamber was “not persuaded that the Philippines is undertaking necessary investigations that would support a deferral of the court’s investigations,” the ICC said in January that it will reopen its inquiry into the drug war.
The ruling has been appealed by Manila.