Lawyer's group files SC petition vs drug war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — A lawyer's group on Wednesday filed a petition before the Supreme Court to stop the police from implementing the  administration's war on drugs.

The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) said it believes the campaign outlined in Philippine National Police (PNP) Command Memorandum Circular No. 16-2016 is unconstitutional.

FLAG chair Jose Manuel Diokno said the war on drugs authorizes the police to kill drug suspects in the guise "neutralizing" or "negating" them.

"We have to ask the question- what does it mean when the PNP chief directs all of his units and policemen to neutralize drug personalities. Well I'll tell you in police lingo, 'pag sinabing neutralize, ang ibig sabihin po niyan is to kill (When they say neutralize, that means to kill)," Diokno said.

The petition stated that the order replaces the police function of evidence gathering with compiling lists of drug suspects. It added the house-to-house visits are not meant to "persuade" drug offenders to stop their illegal activities, rather to kill those who refuse.

Lastly, FLAG said the campaign is based on a mere verbal campaign promise by then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte "to get rid of illegal drugs" within the first six months of his term.

"Under the revised administrative code, the President has 'ordinance power.' That power can only be exercised by written instruction. Until today, President Duterte has not given any written instruction to implement war on drugs," Diokno said.

FLAG added the drug campaign was institutionalized in Memorandum Circular No. 2017-112 from the Department of Interior and Local Government, which carries out "MASA MASID" in all barangays nationwide.

"Mapapansin po ninyo what's being asked of the citizens is not to report crimes. What's being asked from the citizens is to submit names. We believe there's a big difference between reporting crimes and submitting names," Diokno said.

Diokno said this practice is also unconstitutional.

"Anyone can give the name of any person simply by putting in a drop box for any reason. Pwedeng kaaway niya sa pulitika, pwedeng kaaway niya nang personal, pwedeng hindi lang gusto yung mukha," he said.

In a text message, the police said they welcome the court case.

FLAG said the government's war on drugs is all about short-cutting the justice system "by dispensing justice from the barrels of guns instead of the gavels of judges."

According to the PNP, the police conducted 76,863 anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017.

The operations resulted in the death of 3,906 drug personalities and the arrest of 113,932 others.

It added that as of July 25, 2017, the police have facilitated over 1.3 million offenders who surrendered.

Over 3,500 barangays have been cleared of drugs as of August 31, 2017, the PNP said.

The operations also caused the death of 85 law enforcers, while 225 others were injured.

The PNP said the administration's war on drug led to the confiscation of drugs, chemicals, and lab equipment worth almost ₱19 billion, including about ₱13 billion worth of shabu.