President Rodrigo Duterte answers queries from the members of the media at the Malacañan Palace on June 27, 2019.
Presidential Photo/Karl Norman Alonzo
PNP ready to arrest impeachment backers if ordered, but can they?
(Philstar.com) - July 1, 2019 - 7:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — On June 27, President Rodrigo Duterte warned his critics that he would have those who try to impeach him arrested.

“Impeach ako? Kulungin ko sila lahat. Subukan niyo (Impeach me? I’ll put you all in jail. Just try it),” the president said in a chance interview at Malacañang.

Critics had raised concern over Duterte’s statement on allowing Chinese fishermen to trawl in the Philippine exclusive economic zone, saying it violates the 1987 Constitution.

READ: Impeach me? I’ll put you all in jail – Duterte

Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution provides: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

Albayalde: If they violated the law, why not?

Police General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police said Monday that they have yet to receive any order from Duterte to arrest anyone over talk of impeachment.

“If there is an order from the president and we see a violation of the law, why not?” the national police chief said Monday in a mix of English and Filipino.

Albayalde said that he has yet to determine the “specifics” of what may be filed against those who would file an impeachment against Duterte.

“[It would depend] on what we may see, because the impeachment is not covered by the law... either sedition or libel,” he added.

Albayalde however assured the public that there would be an investigation should they file a complaint.

Impeachment is a process under the Constitution

The Constitution provides that the president, vice president, members of the Supreme Court, the members of Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman may be removed from office through impeachment.

It states that the House of Representatives holds the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.

"A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Members of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement by any Member thereof," it says.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has said that he does not think that Duterte meant the he would imprison those who would file an impeachment rap against him.

"In the end, the question is, did the president act against the general interest of the entire Filipino nation?" Guevarra said in a statement.

Unlike any ordinary action in court, the Justice chief stressed that an impeachment complaint is "not a strictly legal proceeding" as it involves "a whole gamut of political, economic and other considerations."

What the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure says on warrantless arrests

Law enforcement agencies implement arrest orders that are issued by courts.

The Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure states that a judge of regional or municipal trial court may issue a warrant of arrest “if he finds probable cause.”

The rules also stated the following as the only scenarios where a warrantless arrest may be conducted:

“When, in his (peace officer or private person) presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense

When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person has to be arrested has committed it;

When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.”

As a general rule, arrests can only be made if a judge has issued a warrant after a criminal case has been filed or if a crime is committed in the presence of law enforcement. In which case, an inquest proceeding must be held immediately to determine if charges should be filed.

The Immigration commissioner, who is under the authority of the president, has a unique power to issue warrants against a foreigner who violates immigration law.

Sedition?

Albayalde said that they would not hesitate to arrest someone who files an impeachement if there are “violations.”

“It depends. It could either be sedition or libel. It depends on which violation of the law we see,” he added.

The Revised Penal Code defines sedition as being “committed by persons who rise publicly and tumultuously in order to attain by force, intimidation, or by other means outside of legal methods.”

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a vocalh critic of Duterte, is facing charges of incidting to sedition before Pasay courts.

One charge stemmed from the senator's remarks against the president during the amnesty row that "were intended to instill in the minds of the people a feeling of hatred and distrust towards the President of the Philippines, the Government and its duly constituted authorities.” Another emanated from his remarks about the president's alleged hidden wealth.

Last May, the Department of Justice filed an inciting a sedition charge against Rodel Jayme, the administrator of a website, that was “constantly posting links of the aforesaid ‘Ang Totoong Narcolist’ which allowed public to have easier access to the videos” that accused the Dutertes of drug links. — Kristine Joy Patag

COVER STORY IMPEACHEMENT MENARDO GUEVARRA OSCAR ALBAYALDE RODRIGO DUTERTE
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