OSG files motion for reconsideration over SC scrutiny in drug war

MANILA -- The Office of the Solicitor General has asked the Supreme Court to recall its December 5 order requiring them to submit documents in connection with the two consolidated petitions seeking to halt the government's anti-illegal drug operations.

In a 14-page motion for reconsideration, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the SC cannot declare a law or ordinance as 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, Calida said adding that if the basis would be the abuses committed by the police officers, then the Revised Penal Code should have been declared unconstitutional.

The high court has ordered the Office of the Solicitor General to submit the following:

* names, addresses, gender of those killed

* place, date and time of drug ops

* names of PNP team leader and team members who participated in the operation the pre-operation plan

* post operations report whether search warrants or warrants of arrests were issued

* names of representatives of media, NGOs and barangay officials present during the police operations.

On those deaths under investigation, the high court asked the submission of the following:

* names, addresses, gender, ages of those killed

* date, time and place of the killing

* Scene Of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) team leader and members who investigated the killing

* investigation reports

* charges have been filed against the suspects if there are any.

During the three-day oral arguments last December, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa pressed for the list of documents they earlier requested from the Solicitor General.

Carpio also required Calida to submit to the SC a detailed report on the 3,806 deaths attributed to anti-drug operations carried out by the police from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017.

The high court also asked the government lawyers to submit the records of all buy-bust operations conducted in San Andres Bukid, the subject of one of the two petitions, the pre-operations plan and post operations plan.

Howeve,r in his motion for reconsideration, Calida said the high court cannot go beyond determining the textual commitment of PNP CMC No. 16-2016 and DILG MC No. ?2017-112 to the Constitution.

In resolving constitutional issues, it is not allowed to receive and weigh evidence, which it will necessarily perform upon receiving the information and documents required of the respondents, Calida said.

Calida added that the documents the Supreme Court wanted contain sensitive information with national security implications.

He said that while the Constitution guarantees right to information, such right is not absolute.

The production of 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.

Calida said they have no intention to defy the high court's order but he filed the motion for reconsideration to strengthen the rule of law and prevent abuse of judicial processes.

Shield against drug ops

Calida earlier said the two petitions seeking for a writ of amparo, wanting to prohibit the implementation of the Philippine National Police's Command Memorandum Circular (PNP CMC) No. 16-2016, otherwise known as Oplan Double Barrel, and the implementing rules of the Department of the Interior and Local Government's Memo Circular (DILG MC) No. ???2017-112 on the revised guidelines for MASA MASID, have no basis.

MASA MASID stands for Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Iligal na Droga.

The extraordinary writ of amparo is intended to safeguard every person's right to life, liberty, and security. It cannot be utilized, as the petitioners are doing, to harass, vex, or hinder public authorities in the legitimate exercise of their duties, Calida said.

The writ of prohibition, on the other hand, can only be sought by one who has legal standing, and when there is something to prohibit. These two conditions are clearly not present in this case. It is therefore not difficult to see that the present petitions are disingenuous moves to destabilize the Duterte administration and sow anarchy, he said.

The consolidated petitions were filed by the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) through lawyer Joel Butuyan, on behalf of the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid, Manila City and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), led by lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno.

The CenterLaw petition is seeking the issuance of a writ of amparo to shield the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid against the government's anti-illegal drug war.

The FLAG petition, on the other hand, is seeking to declare as unconstitutional PNP CMC 16-2016, or Oplan Double Barrel, which Diokno said allows the police to neutralize suspected drug pushers.

The group also filed the petition for the SC to issue protection orders for the relatives of three persons who ended up as alleged victims of extralegal killings in the drug campaign.

Source: Philippine News Agency