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LEGALITY OF DRUG OPERATIONS QUESTIONED

SC orders SolGen to submit ‘Tokhang’ reports

/ 07:25 AM April 03, 2019

BAGUIO CITY — The Supreme Court, holding its summer session here, on Tuesday ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida to submit to the tribunal the police reports on the killings of more than 4,000 people in President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

Calida last year walked back from the government’s commitment to submit the reports to the Supreme Court and to the petitioners who had challenged the legality of the police operations that had led to the killings.

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Argument rejected

The solicitor general argued then that the reports contained sensitive information the disclosure of which could affect national security.

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The tribunal rejected Calida’s argument and ordered up the reports on deadly police operations from July 1, 2016, to Nov. 30, 2017.

Calida asked for more time, which Tuesday’s ruling indicated was up.

“The court just ordered the [solicitor general] to submit the police reports to the Supreme Court and to copy-furnish the petitioners,” lawyer Brian Hosaka, the spokesperson for the court, told reporters.

Hosaka gave no details, saying only that the ruling was handed down in connection with the writ of amparo petition brought in 2017 by the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) to protect 26 villages in San Andres Bukid, Manila, from the war on drugs.

He said the ruling also referred to the constitutionality challenge raised against Oplan Tokhang—the police operations under Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs—by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

FLAG questioned the term “neutralize” in the guidelines for the police operations against users and peddlers of illegal drugs.

All reports with OSG

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Sought for comment on Tuesday, the PNP chief said the reports had already been turned over to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

“I think it’s between the OSG and the Supreme Court,” Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde said.

Albayalde, a former chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), expressed disbelief at reports that the case records had reached more than 20,000 for the metropolitan police alone.

“I don’t think everything is from the NCRPO, because all regions submitted,” Albayalde said.

“What I am confident of is during our time even [up to] now, all police operations are being investigated, even the deaths under investigation,” he added, using the police term for the killings allegedly carried out by vigilantes.

Albayalde said some of the vigilante killings had been solved, though he could not say offhand how many of those cases were.

Deaths in police operations, he said, were investigated by the Internal Affairs Service.

According to the PNP count, 5,281 people have been killed since President Duterte launched his war on drugs in 2016. —WITH A REPORT FROM JAYMEE T. GAMIL

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TAGS: drug killings, EJKs, extrajudicial killiangs, Tokhang deaths, war on drugs
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