Lawyers remind Duterte about ‘legal way’ to conduct arrests
Amid the controversial anti-crime campaign by the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) reminded President Rodrigo Duterte, a lawyer himself, about the legal way to conduct arrests.
“As fellow lawyers, we should all know that one basic premise of the law is that men are punished for their actions, and not the possibility that they might commit a crime, until there is clear evidence that turns that possibility into a likelihood,” NUPL said in a statement on Thursday.
NUPL claimed that the president cannot order the arbitrary arrests citing the 1987 Constitution provision on the Bill of Rights.
“The 1987 Constitution, we must reread or refresh with, clearly states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,” the group said.
“Without such evidence, those arrests, and the President’s order to continue arresting “tambays,” are flagrant violations of the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution, which was drawn up precisely to protect ordinary citizens — and most especially the poor — against such heavy-handedness of the State,” it added.
According to them, only the courts, and not even the president, can order arrests.
“Only a court of law, and not the president, may order a person arrested thru a warrant,” NUPL said, adding that the president and his words are not the law.
President Rodrigo Duterte previously said he did not order the arrest of bystanders, even as the PNP operations were met with criticisms, with some were even calling it a sign of an undeclared martial law.
“I never said, ‘arrested.’ But if you are drinking in the alley, in the squatters area and making a living room out of the road there, you’ll really get nabbed,” President Duterte said in a speech in Davao City last Friday.
PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde also brushed off allegations of human rights violations, saying that none among the over 18,000 individuals who have been apprehended within the National Capital Region complained of abuses.
However, NUPL emphasized that the arrests should have not made in the first place, as vagrancy has already been decriminalized. This, according to them, also makes existing city ordinances mounted on the said rule illegal.
“It was decriminalized in 2012. Any existing ordinance that circumvents or is inconsistent with such repeal can be challenged. And frisking anyone for nothing, without probable cause, is intrusively illegal,” the organization said.
NUPL called on the government and the police to stop the operations, and to leave the people, especially the poor, in peace.
“It is well to recall that such police state tactics were historically experimented or resorted to by fascist dictators to ultimately silence critics and resistance,” the group said.
“We will not just take this sitting down and stand by,” they added. /vvp
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.