MANILA - The Philippine National Police on Thursday said law-abiding citizens should not fear its subpoena powers to order anyone to appear, testify and present evidence to hasten the investigation of crimes.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week signed into law a bill giving the police chief, and the director and deputy director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group the power to issue subpoenas.
Human rights activists expressed concern about the new law, saying the police force was notorious for abuses and could use the additional power to investigate trumped-up criminal charges against those critical of Duterte’s administration.
"Anyone who does not transgress the law should not fear being invited by the police," said police spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao.
"Wala po sa palagay kong magiging problema ang ating mga kababayan dito sa subpoena power na ibinigay ng Pangulo sa PNP," he added.
(I don't think our fellow countrymen will have a problem with the subpoena power given by the President to the PNP.)
PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa had said the subpoena powers will only be used in "extreme cases" that will be studied thoroughly first, noted Bulalacao.
Subpoenaed individuals, he said, retain the right against self-incrimination and would have legal counsel when they appear before the police.
Officials abusing their subpoena powers, meanwhile, will face charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, said Bulalacao.
The issuing of a subpoena would not mean automatic detention, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had said.
"This subpoena power will give hope to the many victims of crimes who were deprived of justice due to the slow investigation processes as witnesses or respondents to crimes cannot be forced to face investigation," he said.
The subpoena powers for the PNP comes as it continued to lead Duterte's war on drugs, which has seen some 4,000 killed after allegedly resisting arrest and fighting officers. With a report from Reuters