The Supreme Court (SC) has named the magistrate who will conduct a study and make recommendations on a consolidated petition against the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and police tokhang operations to give both petitioners and the government an opportunity to defend the legal bases for their respective positions.
In an en banc raffle held at the High Court, the case will be assigned to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio after the consolidation of the two petitions.
The Almora petition (GR 234359) was raffled off to Carpio while the the Dano petition (GR 234484) was raffled off to Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.
Since the docket number of the Almora petition is lower than the Dano petition, the case will both be handled by Carpio.
Carpio is the most senior magistrate in terms of stay in the High Court, considering that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, despite being the head of the SC, ranks more junior than Carpio.
He will be in charge of leading the magistrates in the study of the case as the SC has scheduled the conduct of oral arguments on November 21 at 2 p.m.
The SC also ordered the consolidation of the petitions separately filed by Aileen Almora, Rowena Aparri and Jefferson Soriano; and Ma. Juanita Daño, et al.
It has given the respondent Philippine National Police (PNP), et al. ten days to file its comment on the petitions and the plea for other reliefs.
Both petitions sought the issuance of an amparo writ, a remedy available to any citizen whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by any unlawful act or omission of a public officer, or of a private individual or entity.
On the basis of the Almora petition, which was raffled off to Carpio, the petitioners who are represented by lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) urged the High Court to strike down as unconstitutional PNP Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16-2016 for Oplan Double Barrel, the police’s anti-drug campaign, and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2017-112, which put up a system of anonymous reporting for offenses involving illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.
They argued that the PNP circular is alarming since it expressly authorizes the police to kill drug suspects.
The petitioners said the DILG circular violates citizens’ right to due process.
They pointed out that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has no legal basis because it is based on a mere verbal campaign promise by Duterte to rid the country of illegal drugs within the first six months of his term and is not supported by any executive order or proclamation issued by the President.
The petitioners argued that submitting names of alleged criminals can be done by anyone who suspects, rightly or wrongly, that another person is a criminal.
The Daño petition was filed after the issuance of the memorandum and sought relief from the SC against tokhang anti-drug operations of the Manila Police District (MPD).
The petitioners are led by Sister Ma. Juanita Daño of the Religious of the Good Shepherd and Francisco Blanco Jr., brother of an alleged tokhang victim.
They urged the High Court to bar the MPD Station 6 “from conducting any anti-illegal drugs or anti-criminal operations in San Andres Bukid without the required coordination and presence of representatives from the barangay (village), the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the media and such other persons required to be notified or having the authority to be present at and observe such operations.”
There are 35 “drug-related deaths in the area” spanning 13 months.