De Lima questions Philippine Constabulary revival in war on drugs
Senator Leila de Lima questioned on Wednesday the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s reported plan of enlisting the military to help his government’s war on drugs through the revival of the Philippine Constabulary (PC).
“Under the pretext of the PNP (Philippine National Police) standing down on Operation Tokhang, the President has just exercised an emergency power of the Commander-in-Chief as provided in the Constitution, calling out the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to suppress lawless violence, rebellion, or invasion,” De Lima, former Justice Secretary, said in a statement.
“The exercise of this emergency power requires the existence of lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. It cannot be invoked due to his own order suspending the PNP from conducting anti-drug operations,” she said.
Duterte reportedly broached the idea of reviving the Philippine Constabulary after the PNP suspended its anti-drug operation known as “Oplan Tokhang” to focus on its erring policemen.
The suspension of the PNP’s drug war was prompted by the alleged involvement of some ranking policemen in the recent abduction of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, who was reportedly strangled inside the PNP headquarters.
But De Lima, known critic of the President, said the problem of enlisting the military in the war on drugs was that civil society would be put in a bind “whether to choose the devil they know, of the PNP doing Tokhang, or the devil they don’t know, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) implementing the same murderous Tokhang operations.”
“At first glance, two issues stand out. Whether this is constitutional, i.e, whether (we) are in a state of lawless violence, and whether the real solution after ordering the PNP to stand down is to order the AFP to step up. But these are not the real issues,” she said.
“The real issue is the legitimacy of a government anti-drug program that sanctions killings and violations of human rights. The real problem is not the PNP or AFP per se, but the monstrous policy hatched in the bowels of Davao City and that gave rise to more than a thousand dead in that city and over 7,000 in the whole country. No pretext can change this root of the problem.”
The senator said the problem was neither the PNP being unable to do its job nor the AFP taking over the PNPs job “but the President and his single-minded obsession with drugs and his alarmist strategy in order to justify his human rights abuses.”
“Again, the solution is to stop the killings, and not call out the AFP to do the killings that the PNP has supposedly ceased to perform. Spare the military from the killing of civilians. Spare the civilians from all killings, whether by the PNP or the AFP,” De Lima added. RAM
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.