By Rey Panaligan
Baguio City – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday denied the plea of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to do away with the submission of documents on its illegal drugs operations, particularly on the number of persons killed and dates, places, and reports on police operations from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017.
“The Court DENIED the Solicitor General’s Motion for Reconsideration of the Court’s Order dated 5 December 2017 and DIRECTED respondents to comply with the said Order by submitting the required reports within a period of fifteen (15) days from notice,” the SC said in a resolution released after its full court session.
The petitions against the illegal drugs operations were filed by Aileen Amora and Sr. Ma. Juanita R. Danoin behalf of several individuals.
The SC conducted in Manila last year oral arguments on two petitions that challenged the constitutionality of the government’s all-out drive against illegal drugs being implemented by the PNP.
After the oral arguments, the SC directed Solicitor General Jose C. Calida – who represented the respondents in the two petitions – to submit the names, addresses, and gender of those killed in the illegal drugs operations; the places, dates, and time of the operations; names of PNP personnel who participated in the operations and pre-operation plans; post operation reports; search or warrants of arrest; and names of media, non-government organizations, and barangay representatives present during the operations.
For cases of deaths under investigation, the SC required the submission of the names, addresses, gender, ages of those killed; the dates, time, and places where they were killed; members of the Scene of the Crime Office (SOCO) who investigated the killings; investigation reports; and charges filed if there are any.
In the first petition, the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) asked the SC to declare as “patently illegal and grossly unconstitutional” the government’s all-out drive against illegal drugs.
The FLAG petition, filed on behalf of the victims of the so-called extrajudicial killings Dave Almora and Rex Aparri, wanted the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the PNP’s Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16-2016 on “Oplan Double Barrel.”
Named respondents were PNP Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and Local Governments Secretary Eduardo Año.
The second petition was filed by 35 alleged victims of police operations against illegal drugs since 2016 and residents in 28 barangays in San Andres Bukid in Manila.
In their plea for a Writ of Amparo, the so-called victims and the residents specifically asked the SC to issue a TRO in their favor. They were represented by the Center for International Law (Centerlaw).
The petitioners were led by Sr. Ma. Juanita R. Dano, head of a Catholic-based Religious of Good Shepherd in San Andres Bukid. Her group helps the families of the so-called victims of illegal drugs operations in her area.
Named respondents in the petition were PNP Chief Director General Dela Rosa, Manila Police District (MPD) head Chief Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel, the heads and policemen of the MPD Station 6, and the PDEA, the successor of PNP as lead agency in illegal drugs operations.
In his motion for reconsideration, Calida told the SC that the documents sought by the SC would have sensitive information that have national security implications.
“The documents required … involve information and other sensitive matters that in the long run will have an undeniable effect on national security: It could spell the success or failure of follow-up operations of police and other law enforcement bodies, aside from endangering the lives of those on the list as well as those already in custody,” Calida said.
Thus, he said, the submission of the required documents on illegal drugs operations by the PNP “is patently irrelevant.”
On the alleged unconstitutionality of the drive against illegal drugs, Calida said a law or an ordinance cannot be declared unconstitutional based on the abuses committed by its implementor.
“The criterion by which the validity of the statute or ordinance is to be measured is the essential basis for the exercise of power, and not a mere incidental result arising from its exertion. This is logical,” Calida said.
“Just imagine the absurdity of situations when laws may be declared unconstitutional just because the officers implementing them have acted arbitrarily,” he stressed.
He pointed out that if the basis would be the abuses committed by the police officers, then the Revised Penal Code should have been declared unconstitutional.