The devil is in the details, so they say. Sometimes, however, the same devil appears because of lack of details.
This is evident in Day 1 of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the petitions questioning the drug war. In the opening statements and interpellations of petitioners' counsels (FLAG's Chel Diokno and CenterLaw's Joel Butuyan), it appears that the lack of clarity and operational details in PNP's CMC No. 16-2016 (the mother circular of Operation Double Barrel that covers Oplan "Tokhang") has provided the blanket authority and unbridled discretion to police officers to engage in constitutionally abhorrent acts that include, among others, invasion of domicile, violation of privacy and personal security, and wanton disregard of the presumption of innocence and the rights under custodial investigation and against torture.
The use of the vague words "neutralization" and "negation" in the Circular (to refer to the responses of police officers in dealing with uncooperative or reluctant suspects during anti-drug operations) is really nothing but a general license to kill, especially if we are to read the Circular in its entirety along with the contemporaneous acts and pronouncements of General de la Rosa and other senior officials of the PNP.
Natumbok ni Atty. Butuyan na, higit pa sa PNP Circular, ang mga pinakamatataas na opisyal ng gobyerno - sina Duterte, Dela Rosa, Calida at iba pa - ang mismong nag-uudyok at naghihimok na patayin ng mga pulis ang mga suspek na walang katwiran at walang pakundangan sa mga karapatan.
Sa harap ng isang PNP Circular na nagpapahintulot sa mga patayan at panghihimasok sa mga tahanan, at sa pagrapido ng mapusok na mga pananalita ni Duterte at ng kanyang PA (public announcement) system, hindi na nakakagulat na umabot na nga ng mahigit 13,000 ang mga piAatay sa sinasabing drug war.
"The killings are widespread and systematic, tantamount to crimes against humanity" sabi nga ni Atty. Butuyan.
Another gaping hole in the so-called drug war, apart from the defective guidelines and the questionable conduct of the anti-drug operations itself is the conspicuous absence of prompt, serious and effective investigation and prosecution of cases of EJKs. In my Statement dated August 17, 2017, I mentioned the revelation of Sec. Aguirre during the budget hearing of the DOJ at the Senate as he admitted that the NBI was only able to entertain 37 cases all over the country in a span of almost a year (from July 2016 to May 2017) with no prosecution being pursued in court. This is shocking and morally revolting considering the magnitude of the killings and the public outrage that has been mounting ever since.
The necessity of serious crime investigation, and effective case build-up and prosecution of EJK cases was also discussed during the Orals at the SC the other day.
Dapat makonsidera ang sinasabing Minnesota Protocol na masusing nagtatakda ng mga dapat gawin ng mga awtoridad ukol sa processing of crime scene, gathering of evidence, use of forensic evidence, autopsy and internment protocols at iba pa. Narekomenda ko itong Minnesota Protocol sa aking Dissenting Report noong Disyembre 2016 sa Senado. Gayunman, habang totoo na kailangan ngang baguhin at isaayos natin ang mga kulang - mga patakaran, protocol, polisiya at mga batas ukol sa police operations, crime detection, prevention and suppression, investigation and prosecution - nararapat ding iprayoridad na palitan ang kaisipan at kultura ng mga namumuno at kawani ng mga ahensyang may kinalaman sa sistema ng hustisyang kriminal mag-umpisa sa Pangulo, PNP chief at DOJ Secretary. Itong baluktot na kaispan at bulok na kultura ng pagpatay at pagyurak sa karapang pantao ang puno't dulo ng lahat.
Yes, it is important to change the system of law and procedure by which our authorities deal with crimes and conduct investigation and prosecution of offenses. It is likewise urgent that we change the attitude, mindset, and culture of the people running and implementing that system.
Source: Senate of the Philippines