Three Philippine police officers wanted for the alleged murder of a Spanish businessman in 2020 have turned themselves in to the authorities, the justice ministry said Wednesday.
Diego Lafuente was shot dead during a police drug operation in General Luna municipality on the southern island of Siargao, a popular surfing and holiday destination.
He was among the many thousands of people killed during the drug war launched by former president Rodrigo Duterte and continued by his successor Ferdinand Marcos.
Most victims were poor, Filipino men, according to rights groups. The International Criminal Court is investigating the brutal crackdown for possible crimes against humanity.
Arrest warrants had been issued for the three officers, but they were “nowhere to be found”, the justice ministry said in a statement issued Wednesday.
The officers handed themselves in to authorities on February 9.
State prosecutors had filed charges of murder and planting of evidence against them last March after a review of the case cast doubt on their version of events.
The officers claimed they shot Lafuente in self-defence after he fired a gun at them during a buy-bust operation.
They were initially given a 60-day suspension from duty over the killing, according to the justice department’s review panel.
The drug war has been widely condemned, but so far only three policemen have been convicted for killing a drug suspect.
Under pressure from the UN Human Rights Council and the ICC, the government has examined more than 300 cases of drug operations that led to deaths.
Lafuente’s killing was among the first batch of 52 cases to be reviewed.
Former justice secretary Menardo Guevarra previously told AFP the review of those cases had cast doubt on police officers’ common claim of self-defence.
The review effort is still underway and 25 officers have been charged, the current Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla said in November.