Heads of agencies in ‘drug war’ to appear at SC oral arguments
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and several key figures are expected to answer questions from Supreme Court (SC) justices at the resumption of oral arguments on the petitions challenging the Duterte administration’s brutal campaign against illegal drugs.
Aside from Dela Rosa, also ordered to appear this Tuesday’s oral argument include Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Aaron Aquino, Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) officer-in-charge Jose Marlowe Pedregosa, National Police Commission (Napolcom) chief Atty. Rogelio Casurao, and PNPs Internal Affairs Service (IAS) Inspector General Alfegard Triambulo.
Solicitor-General Jose Calida, arguing for the government, is anticipated to deliver his opening statement for 30 minutes before answering questions from the justices.
At last week’s oral arguments, two magistrates said they are looking at several human rights possibly being violated in the PNP’s conduct of its anti-drug war dubbed as “Oplan Double Barrel.”
The oral arguments stemmed from a petition filed by relatives of victims of “Oplan Tokhang” assisted by members of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
The petitioners asked the SC to nullify Memorandum Circular No.16-2016 issued by the DILG and PNP.
FLAG lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno said the circular contains a direct command to the police to neutralize suspected drug personalities instead of arresting and prosecuting them, and to conduct house-to-house visits and negate those who deny the visits or refuse to cooperate with the police visitors.
Also covered in the same petition is DILG’s circular on its “Masa Masid” program, the community-based program that establishes channels for reporting crimes, including the controversial drop boxes.
The said program was covered by DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2017-112. The petition said that while encouraging citizens to report crimes is perfectly legal, the DILG circular is not about reporting crimes but rather about compiling names of purported criminals.
In the same plea, the petitioners also asks the SC to stop the PNP from carrying out any instructions, pronouncements or utterances of President Rodrigo Duterte that do not conform to the President’s ordinance power under Executive Order No. 292.
The said EO, according to Diokno, provides that the exercise of the President Duterte’s ordinance power must be in writing. /kga
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