Tuesday 12 December, 2017
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How do police violate human rights in drug war? Carpio, Leonen count the ways

The Supreme Court on Tuesday started the oral argument into petitions challenging the government’s controversial war on drugs where thousands killed during police operations.

Justices Antonio Carpio and Marvic Leonen tooks turns in raising several rights violations allegedly committed by elements of the Philippine National Police in implementing PNP Command Memorandum Circular No. 16-2016 or “Oplan Double Barrel” and Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2017-112 or the “Masa Masid” project.

Carpio zeroed in on the possible violation of the people’s right to privacy where anti-narcotics policemen swooping down on houses whose occupants were under suspicion for drugs involvement.

“When the police conduct case build-up just because you refuse entry, that violates the right to privacy because you may refuse entry, correct?” Carpio asked human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), one of the counsel of petitioners, during interpellation.

The assailed PNP policy allowed authoritues to go on house-to-house campaigns and plead to suspected drug pushers to surrender and reform.

Responding to Carpio, Diokno answered in the affirmative and disclosed that aside from right to privacy, the policy also violate the constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure, and right to presumption of innocence.

For his part, Leonen cited violations of the right against self-incrimination, right to custodial interrogation and right to domicile during Oplan Tokhang.

While search warrants are not needed for police to knock on doors, Leonen explained that it is the “right of the occupant not to open the door.”

He expressed belief that the threat on suspects who do not open the door to policemen was a violation of Republic Act 7945 (Anti-Torture law).

“If you do not open the door, something will happen to you… When somebody is under a coercive process to make the person actually do something – as in this case open the door to the police, let them in make them do whatever – therefore under a pain of coercion, that in fact is torture, according to the law, is that not correct?” he explained.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno required the respondents led by PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa to appear in the next oral arguments on Nov. 28.

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