SC wraps up oral argument on petitions vs. anti-drugs ops

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ended the three-day oral arguments on the two consolidated petitions seeking to halt the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has wrapped up the oral argument and ordered both parties to submit their respective memoranda within 30 days because of the Christmas season, instead of the usual 20 days and then the case would be submitted for decision.

But Solicitor General Jose Calida, asked the court to extend the period to 60 days for them to be able to submit the voluminous documents required, which Sereno granted.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio and Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa repeat the list of documents they earlier requested from the Solicitor General.

During the third day of oral arguments, Carpio suggested the government could stop the demand for the illegal drugs being sold in the streets if the supply issue is addressed.

He said those involved in drug importation were Filipino-Chinese and Chinese citizens.

Calida, in response, pointed to the challenge of guarding an archipelagic state like the Philippines.

Unfortunately, our country is an archipelago. This shabu or metamphetamine hydrochloride are dumped into the sea your Honor and somebody will get it from the high seas. So we cannot police an archipelago. There are so many places where it can be transported to. It need not pass through the Bureau of Customs, Calida said during the interpellation.

Calida claimed that the government has been running after all drug players.

“Actually, your honor, the instruction of the President is to go after all of them. However, the big-time Chinese drug lords are outside our jurisdiction. They are in China,” he stressed.

But Calida declined to discuss the case on the PHP6.4-billion drug shipment, saying the case is still under investigation.

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.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Bato Dela Rosa and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino, who had been asked to appear at the hearing, were a no-show because they are in New York for an anti-terrorism conference.

The PNP was represented at the oral arguments by Police Director Augusto Marquez Jr., chief of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM).

Earlier, Calida said 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