Alimodian, Iloilo – Malacanang on Saturday, March 10, announced that the President has signed into law Republic Act 10973 granting subpoena powers to heads of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a press briefing held at the Municipal Hall of Alimodian, expressed that the new measure will add more teeth to the agency’s mandate to enforce the law and find solutions to criminal cases in the country.
“This subpoena power will give hope to the many victims of crimes who were deprived of justice due to the slow investigation processes as witnesses or respondents to crimes cannot be forced to face investigation,” Roque said.
The Spokesperson assured that while new powers have been granted to the CIDG and the PNP, proper safeguards will be implemented to ensure that such powers will not be abused.
“Unang una po, hindi naman lahat ng kapulisan, may subpoena power. ‘Yung hepe lang ng PNP, ‘yung hepe lang ng CIDG, at ‘yung kanilang mga deputies. So ilan lang po silang binigyan ng ganyang subpoena powers,” Roque noted.
“Pangalawa po, meron naman tayong mga umiiral na batas po kapag inabuso itong ganitong kapangyarihan. So kung talagang wala namang dahilan para mag-subpoena, pwede naman pong kwestyunin ‘yan sa pamamagitan ng certiorari, arguing that it is whimsical, capricious,” he added.
Roque further clarified that the law does not allow CIDG and PNP officials to directly place individuals in contempt. He said in cases where the subpoenas are ignored, law enforcers still have to file a petition for indirect contempt in court.
“So ‘yung subpoena powers po, hindi po ‘yun dahilan para sila ay magkaroon ng kapangyarihan na mag-aresto. Dahilan lang po ‘yan para magkaroon ng petition for indirect contempt. At ang hukuman pa rin po ang magpapataw ng parusa doon sa hindi susunod sa mga subpoenas,” Roque stressed.
Palace responds to UN rights head’s “uncalled-for” remarks
Meanwhile, Malacanang responded to criticisms against the President with regard to the inclusion of a United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the list of people whom the Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to be tagged as terrorists.
Secretary Roque called the attention of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for his “harsh” and “uncalled-for” language against the President in relation to DOJ’s move to declare as a terrorist UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
Roque said the language used by Mr. Zeid is not only an insult to the Filipino people, but is also an insult to all countries that exercise democracy in electing their heads of states.
“[S]uch language directed against a democratically elected head of a UN member country is uncalled for and is of course an affront on the sovereignty of Republic of the Philippines,” he said.
On the other hand, the Palace official pointed out that the DOJ’s petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as a terrorist group was just a reinforcement of the same classification already made by the US State Department and the European Union.
He said the inclusion of a UN Special Rapporteur on the list had nothing to do with her mandate, but was simply based on intelligence information linking her with the communist group.
“I assure everyone, including the international community, that this is not a witch hunt on UN special rapporteurs. Instead, perhaps the UN rapporteur system should fine tune its selection process to ensure that individuals identified with terrorist groups are not given any mandate by the UN Human Rights Council,” Roque said.
In any case, the Spokesperson said the government would accord Tauli-Corpuz her inherent right to due process.
“In our legal system, we adhere to the rule of law. And hence, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz can submit controverting evidence to what I am sure the DOJ already has linking her with the terrorist group, the CPP-NPA,” Roque underscored. # # # PCO-Content