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Calida files MR over SC scrutiny in drug war

The Office of the Solicitor General has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to recall its order for authorities to submit to the tribunal police investigation documents on the reported killings of drug suspects in connection with the war on illegal narcotics.
In a 14-page motion for reconsideration, Solicitor General Jose Calida stressed the reports “contain sensitive information that have national security implications.”
“The production of documents...in the long run will have an undeniable effect on national security: it could spell the success or failure of follow-up operations of police and other law enforcement bodies, aside from endangering the lives of those on the list as well as those already in custody,” he stressed.
The government was earlier asked by the High Court to provide within 60 days the documents which contain the names, addresses, police operational plans and other important information of the entire Philippine National Police’s (PNP) “Oplan Tokhang” operations from July 1, 2016, to Nov. 30 2017.
The SC also asked for documents related to the petitions including alleged police-led executions of 35 persons in San Andres Bukid in Manila.
But Calida, in the petition, stressed the tribunal cannot go “beyond determining the textual commitment” of PNP Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16 – 2016 or Oplan Double Barrel and

 

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Department of Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular 2017-112, which establishes a system of anonymous reporting of suspected criminals.
“Besides, the Court is not a trier of facts. In resolving constitutional issues, it is not allowed to receive and weigh evidence, which it will necessarily perform upon receiving the information and documents required of the respondents. Tersely put, the petitions raise a facial challenge to the issuances that will not demand the production and evaluation of evidence,” he said.
If the basis would be the abuses committed by the police officers, Calida said, then the Revised Penal Code should have been declared unconstitutional.
“Just imagine the absurdity of situations when laws may be declared unconstitutional just because the officers implementing them have acted arbitrarily,” he added.
The OSG also clarified that it has no intention of “disregarding or defying” the SC order, saying it filed an appeal in order to “strengthen the rule of law and prevent abuse of judicial processes.
“By recalling the order, the Court will not have to evaluate the evidence presented by the respondents; it will be unduly forced to sift through facts that are not even relevant to the resolution of the constitutionality of the assailed issuances,” the motion said.
‘Tokhang’ back
Meanwhile, the PNP will soon bring back Oplan “Tokhang” in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
But this time, PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa vowed “tokhang” will be implemented in its true spirit which is “knock and plead.”
“My instruction during the command conference is to bring back ‘tokhang’ but the true spirit of ‘tokhang’,” he said.
During the initial launch of the Duterte administration campaign against illegal drugs, de la Rosa introduced Oplan “Tokhang,” under Operation Double Barrel, which he used in Davao City.
In implementing “tokhang,” police operatives track down suspected illegal drug users and pushers down to barangay level, in coordination with village executives.
But government critics blamed the war against illegal drugs in thousands of extrajudicial killings throughout the country.
“It should be different from the ‘tokhang’ done previously when police bring along a list of drug personalities in a barangay and would tell a drug personality that ‘you’re in the list, give us money and we will remove you from the list,” said the PNP chief.
“We need to implement ‘tokhang’ properly, it’s really very good if it is done properly. As I have said…we have cleaned Davao of illegal drug problem, it went down to the lowest level because it was supervised properly,” he added.
Dela Rosa admitted that there were bad intentions that prevailed during the initial launching of “tokhang.”
President Rodrigo Duterte last year twice ordered the PNP from operating against illegal drugs – first in January 2017 when elements of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) killed Korean Jee Ick Joo right inside Camp Crame and in October amidst criticisms from both local and international human rights group.
“This time around, we will make sure that it will be implemented properly otherwise thoase who will commit wrongdoing will be sanctioned,” vowed de la Rosa.
The chief PNP stressed if properly implemented, Oplan “Tokhang” is really bloodless and non-violent approach in addressing the illegal drug problem.
“Actually, ‘tokhang’ is really bloodless because it’s spirit, if implemented properly, is knock and plead…there is not even arrest...you will only be asked to stop,” explained Dela Rosa.
He said complementing the re-implementation of Oplan “Tokhang” will be the creation of oversight committees, composed of deputy chiefs for operations of various units, to ensure the proper conduct of the campaign. 

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