By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang assured the public that the power giving the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to issue subpoenas will not be abused.
President Duterte signed on Friday Republic Act No. 10973 which grants the PNP chief and the PNP-CIDG director and deputy director for administration the authority to administer oath and to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum in relation to case investigation.
However, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Carlos Conde raised concern about Duterte’s new law, saying this may be abused by an already abusive police force.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press briefing in Alimodian, Iloilo, Saturday afternoon, said HRW’s claims were baseless as the Constitution already provides safeguards from abusive use of subpoenas and that all police are given the power.
“Meron naman tayong mga umiiral na batas kapag inabuso itong ganitong kapangyarihan. So kung talagang walang dahilan mag-subpoena, pwede naman pong kwestyunin yan sa pamamagitan ng (We have laws that protects the people from abuses on this kind of power. So if there really is no reason to issue the subpoena, they can question it through a) certiorari, arguing that it is whimsical, capricious,” Roque said.
“Hindi naman po sila mago-order ng pagkakakulong. Kapag hindi po sinunod ang subpoena, kinakailangan pa magsampa sa hukuman ng isang petisyon for indirect contempt (They cannot order a person’s imprisonment through the subpoena. The police would still have to file a petition before the court for indirect contempt if the respondent will not follow the subpoena),” he added.
Roque explained that RA10973 will allow those deprived of justice to have hope as the subpoena power will enhance the PNP’s mandate to solve criminal cases.
“This will add more teeth on their mandate to enhance the law and find solution to the criminal cases,” he said.
“This subpoena power will give hope to the many victims of crimes who were deprived of justice due to the slow investigation processes as witnesses or respondents to crimes cannot be forced to face investigation,” he added.
RA10973 amends the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990 which enables the PNP to summon persons in the conduct of its investigation.
The new law stated that the subpoena must state “the nature and purpose of the investigation, shall be directed to the person whose attendance is required.” In the case of a subpoena duces mecum, it shall also contain a reasonable description of the books, documents or things demanded which must be relevant to the investigation.
Failure to comply with the subpoena shall authorize the filing of a case for indirect contempt under the Rules of Court with the Regional Trial Court