SolGen Calida: Petitions vs. drug war part of destabilization efforts

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The country's top lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, claimed the police's drug war was constitutional. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 28) — The government's top lawyer said petitions against the anti-illegal drug campaign are part of a bigger scheme to destabilize the Duterte administration.

In his opening remarks on the second day of oral arguments on the drug war, Solicitor General Jose Calida defended the intensified campaign.

"It is therefore not difficult to see that the present petitions are disingenuous moves to destabilize the Duterte Administration and sow anarchy," Calida said.

Calida represented respondents of the drug war, including Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director Geneneral Ronald dela Rosa, Interior Undersecretary for Peace and Order Catalino Cuy, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director Aaron Aquino.

Calida said Project Double Barrel did not violate constitutional or statutory provisions, and that policemen observed human rights during anti-drug operations.

"The Philippine government has faithfully complied with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a key human rights treaty providing a range of protections for civil and political rights," he said.

Dela Rosa also aided in the interpellation. When asked by the magistrates if he ever ordered the killing of drug personalities, he responded, "Never."

PNP's Internal Affairs Services Inspector General Alfegar Arambulo also told the justices that the police have investigated over 1,400 police operations with drug-related killings since July 2016.

Calida said there is overwhelming support for the drug campaign, citing a recent survey by private pollster Pulse Asia.

READ: 88 percent support drug war, 73 percent believe EJKs happen - Pulse Asia

But Associate Justice Marvic Leonen reminded Calida that criticism of public officials is an essential part of democracy.

"I am a bit disturbed that the Solicitor General, the tribune of the people, is considering the petitions that have been filed, which I find to be perhaps difficult to prepare at the very least--whether or not it will be granted by the court as another matter altogether--is part of a destabilization effort," Leonen said.

The Solicitor General also said that if the High Court grants the petition, it will be interfering in the Executive branch.

"Granting the consolidated petitions will result in a constitutional crisis," Calida added.

Asked if Dela Rosa sees the granting of petitions, the PNP Chief claimed the public should keep their hearts open.

"Makikita nyo kung ano ang laman ng puso namin. So 'yun lang, kung makita niyo na malinis ang puso namin, ituloy nyo kami. Kung marumi, ihinto," he said.

[Translation: You'll see what's in our hearts. If you see it's clean, let us continue. If not, stop us.]

On October 10, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered PDEA to helm the drug war amid allegations of abuses and extrajudicial killings, including the death of teenagers Kian Delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, and Reynaldo De Guzman.

However, Duterte said he will return the anti-illegal drug campaign to the police should the problem worsen.

READ: Duterte: Police to return to drug war if problem gets worse

Dela Rosa in a media briefing on Monday said while there is no definite date yet as to when this will happen, he said they are preparing to conduct the drug operations at "full speed with extreme caution."

READ: PNP ready to go 'full speed with extreme caution' in drug war

In the previous oral arguments on November 21, lawyers of the Free Legal Assistance Group and the Center for International Law called on the magistrates to 'guide' the police in its anti-drug operations. They claimed the memorandum circular CMC16-2016, more popularly known as Project Double Barrel, is unconstitutional.

READ: Petitioners call on SC to 'guide' police with anti-drug operations

The third day for the oral arguments is set for December 5, 2 p.m.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.