MANILA- Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday criticized petitions challenging the government's war on drugs before the Supreme Court, saying these are attempts to destabilize the Duterte administration and sow anarchy.
Calida, in his opening message during the resumption of oral arguments on petitions seeking to halt the government's anti-narcotics campaign, urged magistrates of the High Court to junk the petitions, on grounds that petitioners failed to produce compelling evidence to support their allegations.
"It is therefore not difficult to see that the present petitions are disingenuous moves to destabilize the Duterte administration and sow anarchy," the government's top lawyer told justices of the Supreme Court.
Two petitions are challenging the constitutionality of the government's campaign against illegal drugs.
One petition known as the "Almora petition" filed by the Free Legal Assistance Group, sought to declare as unconstitutional a police memorandum circular, which it said expressly authorized troops to kill drug suspects.
Another petition, the "Daño petition," from Center for International Law sought to bar police from conducting anti-illegal drugs or anti-crime operations in San Andres Bukid, Manila without the presence of representatives from the barangay, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the media among others.
Both petitions sought a writ of amparo, which may be issued by the high tribunal to any citizen whose rights to life, liberty and security are threatened by unlawful acts from public or private individuals.
Insisting on the constitutionality of the government campaign, Calida said the petitions "drive a wedge" between the President, the Philippine National Police, and the Department of Interior and Local Government by "inciting disobedience to the chief executive and depriving him of his powers and prerogatives."
The Solicitor General also noted that the petitions aim to emasculate the government's police powers by "rendering inutile the PNP-sworn mandate to enforce the law and maintain peace and order."
Calida also responded to allegations of petitioners that Philippine National Police (PNP) Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16 – 2016 for Oplan Double Barrel, the PNP's anti-drug campaign, expressly authorized the police to kill suspected drug personalities.
Petitioners, Calida alleged, have a "skewed interpretation" of the words "neutralize" and "negated" by thinking that such terms only mean "to kill," Calida said.
"Viewed in their purely legal context, these terms should not be construed as synonymous to extrajudicial killings but as a comprehensive term that includes to subdue, incapacitate, arrest and in the most extreme case--when the life of the police officer is in danger--to kill," Calida said.
Lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, one of the counsels of the petitioners, had earlier said that "neutralization" and "negation" are not legal terms and that Police Chief Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa himself has used "neutralize" to mean "kill."
"They have no counterpart in law but in police parlance, as used no less by than the PNP chief himself, to neutralize means to kill," Diokno said.