Calida asks SC to recall order on submission of drug war deaths data

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Calida asks SC to recall order on submission of drug war deaths data

London-based Amnesty International on Saturday claimed that drug-related killings are still happening despite the government's designation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead office in the war on drugs. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times/World Press Photo via AP, File

MANILA, Philippines (First published on January 12, 7:01 p.m.) — The Office of the Solicitor General said that the voluminous police records on the thousands of deaths under the police's anti-drug war "are not relevant" to the current petition challenging the campaign's constitutionality before the Supreme Court.

Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a motion for reconsideration, asking the SC to "recall" its earlier directive to the OSG to submit documents relevant to the petition filed by the kin of drug war victims and residents of San Andres Bukid, Manila.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said he wants documents on the 3,800 deaths related to the drug war that are under investigation of the Philippine National Police.

The SC also ordered Calida to submit the following documents:

  • list of persons killed in legitimate police operations from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30 2017
  • list of deaths under investigation from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017
  • list of Chinese and Filipino-Chinese drug lords who have been neutralized
  • list of drugs involved whether shabu, cocaine, marijuana, opoids, etc.
  • comparative tables on index crimes
  • statistics of internal cleansing within the police force
  • drug watchlist in the affected areas
  • list of warrants and warrantless arrests in [high-value target] police operations
  • list of cases under investigation under Internal Affairs Service

Calida, during the oral arguments last year, said that "he will comply" with the orders of the court. He also asked the SC to extend the deadline, from 30 to 60 days, enough to collate the documents.

In his pleading, Calida said that he felt the need to file the motion for reconsideration since he found the documents to be irrelevant to the two government circulars on the anti-drug war.

He added that the motion was filed not to defy the order of the court but "to strengthen the rule of law and prevent abuse of judicial processes."

Central to the petitions are the Philippine National Police Command Memorandum Circular 2016-16 for Project Double Barrel and the Department of Interior and Local Government memorandum circular 2017-112 on Masa Masid or the community drop box project.

A copy of the motion for reconsideration filed by the OSG was sent to reporters by the SC Public Information Office on Friday.

Through the order, Calida said that the SC "ventured into unwarranted factual inquiries" since the petitions only question the constitutionality of the circulars. 

"It cannot go beyond determining the textual commitment of the PNP CMC No. 16-2016 and DILG MC No. 2017-112 to the Constitution," he said.

According to Calida, the required documents contain "legitimate police operations that were not undertaken pursuant to the assailed CMC," among others. 

READ: Highlights from the Supreme Court oral arguments on the drug war

National security may be put at risk

Calida pointed out that the Constitution provides "guarantees" such as the right to information and right to access to official records but imposes limits on matters such as national security.

"The production of documents required...in the court order involve information and other sensitive matters that in the long run will have an undeniable effect on national security," Calida said.

Last year, the SC held oral arguments on petitions challenging the constitutionality of martial law in Mindanao. On the third day of oral arguments, the SC en banc held an executive session with Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana and other military officials.

The court said that while an oral argument was set for the day, it opted to conduct the last day of hearing in an executive session, citing that national security issues will be discussed among the justices.

But Calida, for the drug war petition, argued that the submission of the documents "would not only compromise ongoing police anti-drug operations but likewise put at risk the lives of informants who provide such information."

He also lamented that the submission "would require significant utilization of man-hours and other scarce resourced by the PNP."

"With the return of the anti-drug program to the PNP, its current authorized personnel would be hard pressed in performing its mandate of enforcing law and order," Calida said.

Other than the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Bureau of Investigation are also empowered and tasked to carry out the administration's war against drugs.

RELATED: Carpio asks: Were there Chinese drug lords killed by the PNP? | Justices ask: Did Oplan Tokhang, Masa Masid violate any law?

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