Supreme Court orders SolGen to release 'Tokhang' police reports

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 02 2019 03:24 PM | Updated as of Apr 03 2019 07:57 AM

BAGUIO CITY (UPDATED) - The Supreme Court has ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to furnish petitioners copies of thousands of police documents in relation to the government’s war on drugs.

The tribunal ordered the office to submit the police reports, copy furnishing the petitioners, said SC Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka. It was not immediately clear how many justices took part in Tuesday's voting.

But according to 2 independent sources, SC magistrates voted unanimously to grant the motions filed by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and the Center for International Law (CenterLaw), which sought to compel Solicitor General Jose Calida to release previously withheld "tokhang" documents.

The tribunal in December 2017 required Calida to submit full documentation of around 3,000 deaths which the government claims were a result of legitimate police anti-drug operations.

Calida initially asked the court to reconsider its order but was compelled by the high court to comply in April last year, expanding the scope to more than 20,000 killed under the war on drugs due to vigilante killings. He eventually relented and submitted the documents but only for the magistrates to see.

FLAG and Centerlaw both asked SC to furnish them copies of the documents, which Calida opposed, citing national security concerns.

“Our position was we should not give because we are not trying the entire EJK in the PH. And besides the SC cannot not a trier of fact,” Calida said on the sidelines of another oral arguments in the high tribunal on March 5 this year.

“There are still cases that are still being investigated by the law enforcement. It’s still ongoing…then they will know the movements of our operatives,” Calida had reasoned out.

In a statement, Centerlaw welcomed the SC resolution.

“These documents are the first step towards the long road to justice for the Petitioners and to thousands of victims of the ‘war on drugs’ and their families,” CenterLaw said in a statement.

“This is an emphatic statement by the highest court of the land that it will not allow the rule of law to be trampled upon in the war on drugs. It’s a very important decision,” it added.

Two petitions are currently pending in the high court questioning the constitutionality of the government’s war on drugs.

The petition filed by Aileen Almora, Rowena Aparri, and Jefferson Soriano and represented by FLAG urged the high court to strike down as unconstitutional Philippine National Police (PNP) Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16 – 2016 for Oplan Double Barrel, the police’s anti-drug campaign, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2017-112, which put up a system of anonymous reporting for offenses involving illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption.

The second petition, filed by Ma. Juanita Daño and represented by the CenterLaw, urged the high court to bar the MPD Station 6 “from conducting any anti-illegal drugs or anti-criminal operations in San Andres Bukid without the required coordination and presence of representatives from the barangay, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the media, and such other persons required to be notified or having the authority to be present at and observe such operations.”

Daño, et al. pointed out 35 “drug-related deaths in the area” spanning 13 months.