SENATORS on Monday maintained that New People’s Army (NPA) rebels can’t arrest or kill drug personalities because only members of law enforcement agencies have the authority to enforce the law.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said while there is a provision in the law that allows citizen’s arrest, it does not apply to the communist rebels who are not even allowed to possess firearms legally.
The government, he noted, is the only one that should enforce the law. Allowing anyone to carry out law enforcement duties may lead to anarchy, Lacson warned.
“I will not allow such kind of system to go on. Not only does it not look good, it is also unconstitutional,” he explained.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his speech during turnover ceremony at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, sought the cooperation of communist rebels in the fight against illegal drugs.
He said the rebels can try suspected drug dealers in their own court.
The President also suggested that the NPA finish off known drug dealers in their area.
But Lacson maintained that the Philippines only has one government, one law enforcement agency, one judiciary.
Senate President Franklin Drilon agreed.
The NPA, he said, has no authority to enforce the law because they are not the government.
A military official who declined to be identified also wondered why Duterte had to tap the NPA in the fight against illegal drugs when the government has enough resources to combat the menace.
“The Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Bureau of Investigation combined would be one hell of a force to fight illegal drugs. Why include the outlaws?” the official asked.
But incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said Duterte was most likely not talking seriously when he asked for the NPA’s help.
Pimentel added that Duterte was likely exaggerating or could have given the warning for those involved in the illegal drug trade to turn a new leaf.
The senator said only the police have the authority to arrest and jail drug lords.
But serious or not, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) already responded to Duterte’s call and ordered the NPA, its armed component, to “disarm and arrest the chieftains of the biggest drug syndicates, as well as other criminal syndicates involved in human rights violations and destruction of the environment.”
In a statement released over the weekend, the CPP said the NPA is ready to give battle to those who will resist arrest.
WITH FERNAN MARASIGAN