SC orders petitioners to comment on SolGen MR on drug war docs

MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered petitioners seeking to halt the government's anti-illegal drug operations to comment on the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). The petition is asking the high court to recall its Dec. 5 order that requires them to submit documents in relation to the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

SC spokesman Theodore Te, in a briefing, announced that the directive was issued following Tuesday's regular en banc session of the magistrates.

Those ordered to comment on the petition filed by the OSG within 10 days include the Center for International Law (CenterLaw), through lawyer Joel Butuyan, on behalf of the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid, Manila City, and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), led by lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno.

In a 14-page motion for reconsideration, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the SC could not declare a law or ordinance as unconstitutional based on the abuses committed by its implementor.

The criterion by which the validity of the statute or ordinance is to be measured is the essential basis for the exercise of power, and not a mere incidental result arising from its exertion. This is logical, Calida said.

Just imagine the absurdity of situations when laws may be declared unconstitutional just because the officers implementing them have acted arbitrarily, Calida said, adding that if the basis would be the abuses committed by the police officers, then the Revised Penal Code should have been declared unconstitutional.

He said that while the Constitution guarantees right to information, such right is not absolute.

The production of documents required involve information and other sensitive matters that in the long run will have an undeniable effect on national security: it could spell the success or failure of follow-up operations of police and other law enforcement bodies, aside from endangering the lives of those on the list, as well as those already in custody, he said.

Calida said they have no intention of defying the high court's order, noting that he filed the motion for reconsideration to strengthen the rule of law and prevent abuse of judicial processes.

He earlier said the two petitions seeking for a writ of amparo, wanting to prohibit the implementation of the Philippine National Police's Command Memorandum Circular (PNP CMC) No. 16-2016, otherwise known as Oplan Double Barrel, and the implementing rules of the Department of the Interior and Local Government's Memo Circular (DILG MC) No. ???2017-112 on the revised guidelines for MASA MASID, have no basis.

MASA MASID stands for Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Iligal na Droga.

The extraordinary writ of amparo is intended to safeguard every person's right to life, liberty, and security. It cannot be utilized, as the petitioners are doing, to harass, vex, or hinder public authorities in the legitimate exercise of their duties, Calida said.

The writ of prohibition, on the other hand, can only be sought by one who has legal standing, and when there is something to prohibit. These two conditions are clearly not present in this case. It is therefore not difficult to see that the present petitions are disingenuous moves to destabilize the Duterte administration and sow anarchy, he added.

The CenterLaw petition is seeking the issuance of a writ of amparo to shield the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid against the government's anti-illegal drug war.

The FLAG petition, on the other hand, is seeking to declare as unconstitutional PNP CMC 16-2016, or Oplan Double Barrel, which Diokno said allows the police to neutralize suspected drug pushers.

The group also filed the petition for the SC to issue protection orders for the relatives of three persons who ended up as alleged victims of extralegal killings in the drug campaign.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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