SC ends oral arguments on drug war


Posted at Dec 05 2017 06:04 PM

Solicitor General Jose Calida talks to Lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) as the Supreme Court starts the oral arguments on the consolidated petitions to declare Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war unconstitutional, in Manila, Philippines November 21, 2017. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA- The Supreme Court on Tuesday concluded oral arguments on petitions challenging the government's crackdown on illegal drugs.

The court granted Solicitor General Jose Calida's request for an extension for petitioners and respondents to be given 60 days to submit their respective memoranda, which would wrap up their arguments on the case.

Calida said the extension was due to the "voluminous" documents on the government's campaign as requested by magistrates of the court.

"Because of the voluminous documents that we will attach to our memorandum and also the preparation of the memorandum and these are nationwide statistics your honor, may we be given 60 days your honor?" Calida said.

The Supreme Court ran 3 rounds of oral arguments on petitions questioning the anti-narcotics campaign of the government.

One 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, from Centerlaw, meanwhile 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.

Representing the petitioners during the oral arguments, lawyers Jose Manuel Diokno and Joel Butuyan told magistrates that Philippine National Police Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16-2016 has allowed the proliferation of killings of suspected drug users in the country by state agents.

"CMC 16 clearly and repeatedly orders the police to neutralize and negate suspected criminals," Diokno had alleged during the first round of oral arguments.

Calida, however, refuted petitioners' claims, saying these are attempts to destabilize the Duterte administration and sow anarchy.

He 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.