Calida blocking release of drug war docs despite SC order — lawyers group
MANILA, Philippines — The government has refused to release the documents related to the government’s war on drugs despite orders from the Supreme Court, a lawyers group and human rights advocate said.
In a motion filed with the Supreme Court, the Center for International Law (Centerlaw) urged the Supreme Court to order the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), through Solicitor General Jose Calida, to provide them copies of documents related to the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs.
CenterLaw filed a petition in 2017 with the high court seeking the issuance of a writ of amparo to protect the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid, Manila City against the government’s war on drugs.
The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) also filed a petition with the high court then asking the magistrates to declare as unconstitutional the Philippine National Police’ “Oplan Double Barrel,” which it said allows the police to “neutralize” suspected drug pushers instead of arresting and prosecuting them.
A three-day oral argument was conducted and eventually, Calida was ordered to submit within 60 days the following:
-Names, addresses, gender of those killed
-Place, date and time of drug operations
-Names of PNP team leader and team members who participated in the operation the pre-operation plan
-Post operation report
-Whether search warrants or warrants of arrests were issued
-Names of representatives of media, NGOs and barangay officials present during the police operations
For those listed under “death under investigation,” the high court asked the submission of the following:
-Names, addresses, gender, ages of those killed
-Date, time and place of the killing
-Scene Of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) team leader and members who investigated the killing
-Charges have been filed against the suspects if there are any
The high court also asked government lawyers to submit the records of all buy-bust operations conducted in San Andres Bukid, the subject of one of the two petitions, as well as the pre-operations and post-operations plans.
Parties to the case according to the high court should be provided a copy as the details required do not compromise national security contrary to Calida’s arguments.
The information and the documents also do not involve rebellion, invasion, terrorism, espionage, infringement of our sovereignty or sovereign rights by foreign powers, or any military, diplomatic or state secret.
Calida filed an appeal but was rejected by the Supreme Court in April last year. The following month, the OSG submitted some of the required details and documents and sought two more months to fully comply.
But in a September 2018 motion, Calida again demurred on the release of thousands of documents, saying that they contain “very sensitive information with law enforcement and national security implications.”
He also said that the petitioners — CenterLaw and FLAG — are only entitled to documents related to the killings stated in their petitions, but not to other documents related to the other killings.
Centerlaw, in its recent pleading, said the continued refusal of the OSG is in violation of the Rules of Court that requires pleadings and papers to be served on the parties affected.
They added that denying them a copy of the documents is a violation of their right to due process as well as President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 2, s. 2016, that provides a legal presumption in favor of access to information, public records, and official record.
They said a denial of their request will be a first in the history of the Court “where evidence duly submitted to it and forming part of its determination of the pending case will be intentionally withheld from the opposing parties.” /ee
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