Data on drug war deaths being willfully suppressed? The SC thinks so
In this Dec. 8, 2016 photo, people and a policeman looking at the body of a woman, later identified by her husband as that of Nora Acielo, still clutching the school bag of her child, are reflected in a pool of water after she was shot by still unidentified men while walking with her two children to school at a poor neighborhood in Manila, Philippines.
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Data on drug war deaths being willfully suppressed? The SC thinks so

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - April 11, 2018 - 12:10pm

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The Office of the Solicitor General’s refusal to yield the records on deaths linked to the government's drug operations has led the Supreme Court to think that the said documents are being “willfully suppressed.”

In a strongly worded resolution, the SC en banc stressed that when it ordered the solicitor general to yield its voluminous documents on the thousands of drug-related deaths, it asked the government to “establish its claim of the legitimacy of police operations.”

“The OSG’s continued refusal to submit to this Court’s requirement will lead this Court to presume that these information and documents, because they are wilfully suppressed, will be adverse to the OSG’s case,” the resolution further reads.

The 52-page resolution quoted lengthily the transcript of interpellations by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Samuel Martires, Alfred Benjamin Caguioa, Noel Tijam, Marvic Leonen, Andres Reyes Jr., Teresita De Castro and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

READ: SC orders government to submit records on drug war deaths

The SC, on its February 3 en banc session, acted on the motion for reconsideration filed by the solicitor general regarding the high court’s order to submit police records and investigation logs on drug-related deaths.

This is in connection with the consolidated petitions assailing the constitutionality of the police’s "Oplan Double Barrel" and the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s "Masa Masid" programs.

In dismissing Calida’s appeal, the SC said that the solicitor general's motion for reconsideration has no legal basis.

The SC also stressed that it would be the high court that would determine the “relevant facts” of the case, and not the solicitor general's office, that stands as a respondent in the case.

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

Who else can access police documents?

The SC also raised that it would be “the height of absurdity” if it allows Calida’s refusal to submit the documents.

“If this Court cannot obtain the regularly-prepared information from the OSG as well as from the rest of the respondents, by what other means can ordinary citizens get information about their relatives who were killed during anti-drug operations of the police?” the SC raised.

During the interpellation on the government's drug war, Calida asserted that the Philippine National Police is looking into the drug-related deaths.

The SC stressed that the determination of the constitutionality, application or operation of the two assailed government memoranda must start with the police reports on the conduct of the operations, which resulted in thousands of deaths.

Malacañang annual report

The SC also pointed out that the Duterte administration even included drug-related deaths in its 2017 yearend report.

“The government’s inclusion of these deaths among its other accomplishments may lead to the inference that these are state-sponsored killings,” the resolution read.

Citing the Duterte administration’s 2017 yearend report, the high court said that the government tallied “a total of 20,322 deaths from July 1,2016 to Nov. 27, 2017 or an average of 39.46 deaths every day.”

“This Court wants to know why so many deaths happened as expressly reported under the section ‘Fighting Illegal Drugs’ of the Duterte Administration’s 2017 Yearend Report.”

READ: Duterte gov't probing over 16,000 drug war-linked deaths as homicide, not EJK

The International Criminal Court is currently conducting a preliminary examination into the Duterte administration over the thousands of deaths under its crackdown on drugs.

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