Supreme Court orders drug war records released to petitioners

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — What’s the real score on the war on drugs?

The Supreme Court (SC) asked this yesterday as it compelled the government to submit the records from the Philippine National Police (PNP) regarding the number of suspected drug offenders killed in President Duterte’s flagship program.

Voting unanimously in summer session in Baguio City yesterday, the SC ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to submit police reports and documents involving 3,800 deaths related to the drug war now under investigation of the PNP.

The SC allowed the numerous writ of amparo cases filed by several people seeking protection against what is perceived to be an unlawful act by the government or a public official.

The SC also directed the OSG to release or furnish copies of the reports to the petitioners in the amparo cases represented by human rights groups CenterLaw and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

“The Court ordered the Solicitor General to submit to the Supreme Court the police reports, copy furnishing the petitioners,” SC spokesman Brian Hosaka announced in a press conference.

The SC granted the motion of petitioners to be furnished copies of the PNP reports, which the OSG opposed.

The OSG argued the records should not be released to the petitioners because they do not represent all alleged victims in the drug war.

CenterLaw filed a petition in 2017 with the high court seeking the issuance of a writ of amparo to protect the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid, Manila against the government’s war on drugs.

The FLAG, on the other hand, filed a petition asking the Court to declare as unconstitutional the PNP’s “Oplan Double Barrel,” which it said allows the police to “neutralize” suspected drug pushers instead of arresting and prosecuting them.

In May last year, the OSG submitted some of the required details and documents and sought two more months to fully comply.

But in September, it again opposed the release of thousands of documents, saying that they contain “very sensitive information with law enforcement and national security implications.”

The OSG argued the petitioners are only entitled to documents related to the killings stated in their petitions, but not to other documents related to the other killings.  

On the other hand, the PNP said it will seek instructions from the President regarding the SC order.

“We will get orders from the President since he is the Commander-in-Chief,” PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said.

He said he has yet to receive a copy of the SC order.

“I did not see the decision yet. I think it’s between the OSG and the SC, not between the SC and PNP,” Albayalde said.

Albayalde gave assurance the incidents where drug offenders have been killed in alleged shootouts with policemen and those slain by unnamed assassins are being investigated.


The SC earlier asked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to provide them the list of 13 judges that were supposedly on the take in the illegal drug operations.

The anti-narcotics agency however has refused to share the information, saying they are still in the process of validating the list.

Earlier, the PDEA and Malacañang came out with the list of supposed narco politicians involved in the illegal drug trade.

Police have reported killing over 3,000 people in anti-drug operations since Duterte took office in 2016. He stormed to election victory after promising 100,000 people would die as he eradicated illegal drugs in society.

Many Filipinos continue to support the crackdown called “Oplan Tokhang” but it waned following the murder of two teenagers in Caloocan City two years ago.

The PNP itself also got into trouble when several of its officers kidnapped a South Korean businessman under the guise of a drug raid, then murdered him inside the national police headquarters in Camp Crame.

Duterte then ordered the PNP sidelined in the war against drugs and appointed the PDEA to take the lead.

However, Duterte quickly reinstated the PNP without making any major reforms. The PNP, at the time headed by Ronald dela Rosa, then announced they were back fighting the drug war with a campaign named “Double Barrel Reloaded.”

Dela Rosa, the administration’s senatorial candidate, said the PNP has nothing to hide if they release the documents involving the deaths over the war on drugs.

“I am not concerned. I don’t hide anything. I am not afraid. Go ahead. That’s a public document. You (the SC) get it if you want it,” Dela Rosa told reporters during the PDP-Laban’s proclamation rally yesterday in Malabon City.

Dela Rosa however echoed the OSG’ concern that the release of the documents may constitute a national security risk.

He warned the documents may be used to go after the police officers concerned and compromise anti-drug operations.

“There are many concerns over that. If they make it public, the police will be prone to harassment. The policemen will just be passive since they would face the risk of being criminally charged in doing their job,” Dela Rosa said.   – With Emmanuel Tupas, Marc Jason Cayabyab




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