‘Don’t fabricate’ evidence, lawyers admonish PNP

Published February 7, 2021, 1:37 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

An organization of lawyers has admonished the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the ‘fabrication” of evidence against any person.

Philippine National Police (PNP) (Official Gazette / File photo / MANILA BULLETIN)
Philippine National Police (PNP)
(Official Gazette / File photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

The call was aired by Edre U. Olalia, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), after the Mandaluyong regional trial court (RTC) dismissed the charges of illegal possession of firearms filed against journalist Lady Ann Salem.

 “As the trial court order itself said ‘there is a right way to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason.’ One should not take shortcuts, ignore, or circumvent the rules. With even greater reason that one should not manufacture, invent or set-up evidence to persecute citizens and weaponize the law against them,” Olalia said.

“One may get away with some of it all of the time, one may get away with all of it some of the time, but one will not get away with all of it all of the time,” he said.

 The PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) implemented search warrants for illegal possession of firearms last Dec. 10, on International Human Rights Day, that led to the arrest of Salem, activist and editor of Manila Today.

Salem’s supporters claimed the charge was trumped up and the PNP merely planted evidence against her.

Olalia expressed belief that “the studied ruling by one trial court may arguably have a persuasive legal effect on other trial courts in related cases especially that the essential circumstances and general storyline or modus operandi in the procurement, issuance and service of the search warrants, as well as the illegal arrests and trumped-up charges, are borne of similar contrived narratives apparently flowing from the same basic template: set them up, forget the rules, demonize them, then lock them up.”

Though police have “the presumption of regularity to cover their backs”, the lawyer said the court’s ruling on “suppressing, expunging, excluding and declaring inadmissible the purported evidence and thus dismissing the bogus charges shatters such presumption and exposes such kinds of police operations as tainted with presumptuous irregularities.”

 “We believe this is a subtle yet perceptible nudge for fellow judges that they should ensure that people should believe and trust our courts, the exercise of its powers and the judicial system itself,” he added.