Subpoena power to boost PNP capacity to solve cases

MANILA The subpoena power mandated by a new law to the Philippine National Police (PNP) is expected to boost its capacity to investigate and solve various cases in the country.

"This authority will effectively 'add more teeth' to our mandate to enforce the law and find solution to criminal cases, more swiftly and decisively in the best interest of the criminal justice system," PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa said in a press briefing Monday.

The PNP chief also vowed that the use of subpoena powers will be done sparingly and judiciously.

"With all the safeguards and built-in measures to ensure transparency and accountability in all police operations, rest assured any attempt to abuse or misuse this power will be promptly checked and subsequently dealt with accordingly," Dela Rosa said.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 10973, which amends Republic Act 6975 or the Local Government Code.

The law authorizes the PNP chief, the director and deputy director for administration of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to administer oath, issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum (documents) in relation to its investigation.

He said non-compliance will be dealt with through the courts as a form of indirect contempt.

"If they do not appear, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will immediately go to jail. They will only go to jail if there is a petition before the court citing them for indirect contempt. For that, you have to wait until the court issues a warrant of arrest. It depends to the sound discretion of the court. Hindi yung pulis mismo magsabi na kulong ka dahil hindi ka nag-appear sa amin (The police will not be the one to decide that you go to jail because you did not appear before us)," Dela Rosa added.

Dela Rosa said the subpoena powers will not replace the PNP's anti-drug war but clarified that it may be used to compel the appearance of high value targets in the PNP's rolls of drug lords.

CIDG acting director Chief Supt. Roel Barcena Obusan, for his part, pointed out that his unit handles only high-profile cases and that these powers will be used exclusively on these cases.

"When this was being drafted and I was asked for inputs I personally ensured that civilians would not be prejudiced and at the back of my mind I myself would be a civilian once I retire," Obusan said.

Source: Philippine News Agency