By Mario B. Casayuran
Senator Richard Gordon said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has to comply with a Supreme Court (SC) order asking it to submit police investigation reports surrounding the death of about 4,000 drug suspects.
The chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said the OSG cannot invoke national security in refusing to follow the order of the High Tribunal which can cite it for contempt.
“It must be upfront,” Gordon said, adding that the orders of the Executive branch are not exempt from the judicial review by the Supreme Court.
Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its order directing his office to submit documents on illegal drugs operations, particularly on number of persons killed and dates, places, and reports on police operations from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2017.
In a motion, Calida said, “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.”
In their campaign against illegal drugs, Gordon reminded police authorities to respect the political and human rights of persons arrested in their dragnets to avoid the country from being tagged as lawless after thousands of drug suspects died in their custody or killed under suspicious circumstances.
Gordon, a lawyer said even suspects who voluntarily go with policemen to police precincts must be provided with or must have lawyers when their affidavits are taken.
The police should also remind suspects that they can remain silent and informed of their constitutional rights.
The President relieved the police from the operation against illegal drugs following the unwarranted deaths of three teenagers whom witnesses said were killed by the police.
He has since placed the police in a support role to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the lead agency in the drug war.
But Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa announced that he will soon resume “Oplan Tokhang” to help PDEA.
Gordon said cops should wear body cameras during police operations.