The high tribunal directed the PNP to comply with the order by submitting the required report within 15 days from receipt of notice. Photo
SC orders PNP: Submit report on drug war
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday affirmed a decision it issued in December ordering the Philippine National Police (PNP) to submit data on the almost 4,000 documented killings related to the administration’s war on drugs.

In session in Baguio City, the SC magistrates denied an appeal filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in January.

The high tribunal directed the PNP to comply with the order by submitting the required report within 15 days from receipt of notice.

After hearing the petitions of rights groups Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and Center for International Law (CenterLaw) during oral arguments in November and December, the SC ordered the PNP to submit the data on drug-related killings.

The OSG, which represents the PNP in the case, filed an appeal last week, saying the order was irrelevant to the question on the constitutionality of the PNP’s Memorandum Circular 16-2016 or the “Oplan Double Barrel” and its implementing rules as provided under the MC 2017-112 or the “Masa Masid” project of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The high court did not agree with the OSG.

Solicitor General Jose Calida sought the dismissal of the petitions filed in October last year, calling it a “disingenuous move to destabilize the Duterte administration and sow anarchy.” 

Calida said that if granted, the petitions seeking to stop the implementation of the PNP and DILG circulars could be detrimental to the government and pose grave threats to the country.  

The SC has yet to resolve the consolidated petitions.

The FLAG, a known rights group during the martial law era of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is representing two victims of extrajudicial killings – Ryan Dave Almora and Rex Appari – and a survivor named Jefferson Soriano.

In its petition, the group led by De La Salle University law dean Jose Manuel Diokno sought a writ of amparo and temporary protection order, prohibiting police officers from getting near the residences or workplaces of the families of the petitioners.

Meanwhile, CenterLaw represents the families of 35 alleged drug suspects killed in police anti-narcotics operations over the past year and other residents of San Andres Bukid district in Manila.

Monitoring panel revival sought

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged the government to revive a multi-sectoral body tasked to monitor the status of the Philippines’ human rights obligations to the international community.

In a communication submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last month, the CHR said it has called on the Duterte administration to reconvene the Universal Periodic Review Tripartite Monitoring Body (UPR TMB), which tracks the status of recommendations accepted by the Philippines during the review of its human rights situation.

Formed in 2013 with the assistance of the UN Development Program, the UPR TMB is convened by the Presidential Human Rights Committee together with the CHR and other civil society partners.

Its primary purpose is to track the progress and assess the implementation of all UPR recommendations accepted by the Philippine government.

It is also tasked to identify the baseline action points, indicators and best practices within the scope of each UPR.

The revival of the monitoring body, which last convened during the Aquino administration, was among the recommendations made by the CHR to the Philippine government after its third UPR last week.

Leila hits Pimentel

Sen. Leila de Lima criticized Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III for treating members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) like “ignoramuses” when it asked the Senate to act in solidarity with her. 

De Lima expressed disappointment at how Pimentel and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo responded to the resolution issued by the IPU.

The IPU urged the Senate to take a firm stand in favor of De Lima’s participation in its sessions.

Pimentel said it was unfortunate the IPU lacked understanding of the Philippine Constitution and that the organization, which is composed of legislators from all over the world, should respect the sovereignty of the Philippines.

De Lima said the IPU has its own process in investigating the oppression and persecution of legislators by their own governments.

She said Pimentel should know this very well, noting he has directly dealt with IPU officials and representatives with regard to her case. 

De Lima noted how Pimentel even attended the IPU assembly in St. Petersburg where the international organization adopted its human rights committee report and recommendations on her case.

“SP Pimentel cannot see IPU’s point on this because he no longer cares about the workings of democracy and the importance of a genuine opposition in governments the world over,” she said.

‘No harassment’

Malacañang yesterday denied that human rights advocates in the country are being harassed days after the administration raised the possibility of the groups being used by drug rings to derail the war on illegal drugs.

London-based Amnesty International (AI) has urged the Philippine government to stop what it described as harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and to take back its claim that the rights groups have links with illegal drug syndicates. 

The group said the allegation was the latest dangerous attempt by the government to target human rights defenders and delegitimize their work.

AI said such statements place the safety of those that criticize the government in peril.

Refuting AI’s claims, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said rights groups in the Philippines are not experiencing intimidation and harassment. 

“There’s no such harassment nor intimidation of human rights defenders. We don’t know what they’re talking about,” Guevarra said in a text message to The STAR. 

At least 4,000 people have died since President Duterte launched his brutal war on illegal drugs in 2016. 

Duterte has been hurling tirades at critics of the anti-drug campaign, accusing them of defending drug offenders while ignoring the plight of people whose lives were destroyed by narcotics.

He has also threatened to have the rights advocates shot. Palace officials said the President’s remarks should be taken seriously but not literally. – Janvic Mateo, Marvin Sy, Alexis Romero

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