By Jodesz Gavilan / Rappler

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday, October 20, reminded the Duterte government not to ignore the thousands of victims killed under the violent war on drugs, as the Department of Justice (DOJ) released information about cases it is investigating.

The DOJ on Wednesday made public a matrix featuring information on 50 cases of deaths in police anti-drug operations, which showed findings of abuses and lapses in protocol, among others.

These investigated cases, however, are but a small part of the total number of deaths under President Rodrigo Duterte's violent war on drugs. Official government data shows there were 6,191 deaths in police anti-drug operations alone as of September 31.

This count does not include victims of vigilante-style killings, which human rights group estimate to reach 27,000 to 30,000.

The release of the matrix is the latest in a long-running, back-and-forth between local and international human right groups - including United Nations rights chief Michelle Bachelet – and the government.

CHR said it hoped that the matrix would be helpful to stakeholders, especially victims' families, as they grapple with ways to seek justice for their loved ones.

The commission also hoped that it would "encourage witnesses to come out" and help investigations, which mostly arrive at dead ends due to uncooperative police officers, lack of documents, and climate of fear.

There is still no assurance, however, if the DOJ and the PNP would finally open their case folders and the full reports to the CHR. The government has stonewalled on this data even though CHR is mandated by the 1987 Philippine Constitution to investigate state abuses.

Bachelet's office previously released a scathing report in 2020 which said that Duterte's war on drugs was carried out without due process and that the local system wasn’t enough to exact accountability over the killings.

The International Criminal Court's pre-trial chamber recently green-lit an investigation into Duterte's violent campaign. The chamber said that killings "took place in pursuant to or in furtherance of a state policy."