SC oral arguments: Jardeleza sees basis to issue TRO on ‘Oplan Tokhang’
Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza believes there’s a basis to stop “Oplan Tokhang,” the house-to-house visitation during which police pleads with suspected drug users to change their ways.
“Tokhang” – a combination of the Cebuano words “toktok” (to knock) and “hangyo” – is part of Project Oplan Double Barrel, which is in Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) 16-2016 of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“To my mind, and not examining the mass of facts presented by the petitioners, it seems to me there is a prima facie to issue a temporary restraining order against stage 3 [the CMC] on house-to-house visitation,” Jardeleza said during Tuesday’s oral arguments on petitions questioning the constitutionality on the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Petitioners are seeking to nullify the CMC, arguing that it has allowed constitutional rights violations by the police.
During the interpellation, Solicitor General Jose Calida tagged the house-to-house visitation as a display of the “bayanihan spirit,” because village officials would accompany police officers in their anti-crime campaign.
But Jardeleza said such act by the police could be considered coervice, because five to 10 police officers knocking at a suspect’s house, especially at night, would give the impression that a police precinct has been transported there.
“When the police under ‘Tokhang’ knock on the door, effectively they have invited themselves into the home of the suspect and that is a violation of the definition of custodial investigation,” Jardeleza said. “If the police cannot invite you to the station, the police cannot under the same circumstances invite themselves into your home.”
“I am saying that as a matter of constitutional law [the provision on the house-to-house visitation] is crafted in such a manner that it violates RA 7438,” he added.
Republic Act No. 7438 is the law defining the rights of arrested or detained persons or persons under custodial investigation.
“The person is not secure in his house for any purpose and the avowed purpose which says to confront, even if I accept your formulation, which is to stop evil ways, is not the purpose allowed under the Bill of Rights,” Jardeleza pointed out. /atm
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