Photo shows PNP chief Oscar Albayalde in a press conference.
PNP open for dialogue with proponents of research on drug war
( - April 29, 2019 - 11:51am

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said the national police agency is open for dialogue with the proponents of the Ateneo Human Rights Center-led study that looked into the legal framework of the government’s drug war.

In a press conference Monday, Albayalde said the police had already directed PNP officials to reach out to the people behind the study which found that Oplan Double Barrel endangers citizen’s rights enshrined in our Constitution.

READ: Study: Gov't circulars on 'drug war' affect constitutional rights

“What we need here is engagement, exchange of ideas. It’s a discussion, when we say discussion, it should be two ways,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.

“They might have something here that we do not know. We are open for suggestions,” he also said, stressing that the PNP does not have a monopoly on strategy and intelligence.

Albayalde added that the PNP has always been open on improving the implementation of law enforcement.

‘Voluntary surrender’

Last Friday, the Ateneo Human Rights Center made public the findings of its research on the Duterte government’s drug war. According to the study, the drug war affects and makes vulnerable citizen’s rights enshrined in the 1986 Constitution.

In particular, the research team said that the “voluntary surrender” in the police program, where a subject is “persuaded” to execute an affidavit, affects the citizen’s right to due process, right to presumption of innocence, right against self-incrimination and right to privacy.

Those who surrender also sign a waiver that allows the state to take urine samples, take photos, fingerprints, information and conduct physical/mental examinations. The authorities can “utilize the result... for any legal purpose that it may serve.”

This, in turn, translates to the waiving of the right against an unreasonable search and right to privacy, the research said.

But Albayalde stressed that the program is “voluntary in nature.”

“Wala pong namatay because of Oplan Tokhang. This is all for surrender, for rehabilitation,” he added.

Only SC can say what is unconstitutional

Albayalde also stressed that only the Supreme Court, and not the group of academics, can declare the government’s war on drugs unconstitutional.

Albayalde asked the researchers to specifically point out what specific act or provision of the program is unconstitutional and not generalize.

“If they have a point, then we will adjust accordingly, not just generalize. What specific acts in Oplan Tokhang is unconstitutional,” he added.

The SC, however, has yet to resolve the two petitions filed in 2017 by relatives of those slain in alleged extra-judicial killings. The petitions questioned the legality of the PNP’s Oplan Double Barrel and the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s Masa Masid.

READ: Justices ask: Did Oplan Tokhang, Masa Masid violate any law?

The tribunal, however, had recently reiterated its order to the Office of the Solicitor General to give the petitioners a copy of the voluminous drug war records and investigation into the thousands of deaths during police operations.

In another strongly worded resolution, the high court told Solicitor General Jose Calida, the government's chief legal counsel: “The undeniable fact that thousands of ordinary citizens have been killed, and continue to be killed, during police drug operations certainly is a matter of grave public concern.”

READ: SC tells Calida: Thousands of deaths in drug war of 'grave' public concern — Kristine Joy Patag

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