MANILA – The lawyers of a group of Manila residents which questioned the government’s war on drugs before the Supreme Court has asked the high court to cite the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in contempt after they submitted supposedly “rubbish” documents that are not related to Oplan Tokhang.
The Center for International Law (Centerlaw) on Monday filed a manifestation and motion accusing the OSG and the PNP of “underhanded machinations” in submitting “irrelevant non-drug related case files.”
The Supreme Court, in April this year, ordered them to furnish petitioners with copies of thousands of police documents in relation to the government’s war on drugs.
Centerlaw said that on May 17, the OSG and PNP furnished them 289 compact discs supposedly in compliance with SC order.
“When an examination of an ample sampling of the files contained in the CDs/DVDs was made, it became clear that an overwhelming number of the death incidents submitted by the OSG and PNP are non-drug related cases,” Centerlaw said.
It noted that out of the 107 CDs/DVDs it has inspected so far, representing 1,792 death files, 90.01% of the solved cases and 55.80% of the unsolved cases were not drug-related, leaving only 9.99% of the solved cases and 44.20% of the unsolved cases as “possibly drug-related” deaths.
“What the OSG and PNP virtually want is for the Supreme Court and the Petitioners to utterly waste valuable time and resources examining case files which are totally irrelevant and, in fact, absolutely rubbish insofar as the instant cases are concerned,” it said.
OSG, PNP DEFIED SC THRICE
Centerlaw also accused the OSG and PNP of repeatedly defying the SC.
“[T]he OSG and PNP have defied the Supreme Court three times on the latter’s order to release the documents with respect to the total of 20,322 drug-related deaths which the government itself claimed as accomplishment for the period from July 1, 2016 to November 27, 2017,” it claimed.
SC first ordered the OSG and PNP to produce police operation reports and other documents during the December 5, 2017 oral arguments, which OSG later questioned when it filed a motion for reconsideration citing national security concerns, and second, in its April 3, 2018 resolution denying OSG’s motion.
“The OSG’s continued refusal to submit to this Court’s requirement will lead this Court to presume that these information and documents, because they are willfully suppressed, will be adverse to the OSG’s case,” the SC warned the OSG and PNP.
The OSG eventually submitted supposed Tokhang documents to the SC but furnished copies to petitioners of only documents pertaining to the 33 deaths in San Andres Bukid, which Centerlaw is representing, and the deaths in the other petition filed by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
This prompted another exchange of pleadings until the SC finally ruled in April this year to furnish petitioners copies of all Tokhang documents.
“The Petitioners humbly point out that the Supreme Court should not lose sight of the fact that the OSG and PNP trifled not only with the Petitioners. The OSG and PNP have run circles around the emphatic and repeated orders of the High Court for them to submit documents on drug war-related deaths,” Centerlaw said.
“The misrepresentation on and submission of irrelevant documents to the Supreme Court by the OSG and PNP constitute direct contempt of court,” it added.
Centerlaw urged the high court to compel the OSG and the PNP to submit the correct and complete documents on the 3,967 drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to November 27, 2017 and 16,355 homicide cases under investigation for the same period, classified according to region and province as well as whether they died during police operations or vigilante homicide cases under investigation.
Should the OSG and PNP fail to comply, Centerlaw asked SC to declare that the drug operations did not comply with the documentary and investigation requirements under the rules of the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and that the homicide cases did not go through police investigation and documentation.
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, urges the high court to strike down as unconstitutional PNP Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16 – 2016 for Oplan Double Barrel, the police’s anti-drug campaign, and 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 Centerlaw, urged the high court to bar the Manila Police District (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.