MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Escudero on Tuesday, August 23, lectured Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa on the role of the Solicitor General.
Escudero told Dela Rosa that Solicitor General Jose Calida cannot defend the police from accusations stemming from their war on drugs, allegedly linked to extrajudicial killings.
Calida earlier vowed to protect the police at all costs from those who seek to derail the PNP's anti-drug efforts, claiming he is the "defender" of the PNP.
"Nabanggit ng ating kagalang-galang na Solicitor General na ipagtatanggol daw niya ang mga pulis kapagka nakasuhan sa laban na ito sa droga. Ayon sa aming research, general, 'di po niya pwedeng gawin 'yun," Escudero told Dela Rosa during the Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings.
(Our Honorable Solicitor General earlier mentioned that he would defend the police if they face charges involving their fight against drugs. According to our research, general, he cannot do that.)
Escudero said the Supreme Court already prohibited the state counsel from defending any government official from criminal cases.
"Gustuhin man ng Solicitor General, nagkaroon na po ng desisyon ang Korte Suprema na 'di pwede mag-appear ang Solicitor General's office sa isang criminal case laban sa maski na sinong opisyal ng gobyerno, pulis, sundalo, congressman, senator, mayor, o kahit na sino pa man," Escudero said.
(Even if the Solicitor General wants to, the Supreme Court has already decided that the Solicitor General's office cannot appear in a criminal case against any government official, policeman, soldier, congressman, senator, mayor, or anyone.)
But Escudero said the police still have a recourse, as the PNP charter allows them to hire private lawyers.
No declared policy to kill?
In the hearing, Escudero took the chance to directly ask the police chief if there are declared policies allowing the killings of drug-related personalities.
The senator said many foreigners and investors have already expressed fear and concern over the spate of killings in the country.
Dela Rosa, for his part, maintained there is no direct order from the President.
"There is none. We will follow the rule of law. Siguro 'yung sinabi ni President para takutin 'yung mga drug personalities dahil this is a psychological warfare. Pag 'di sila tinakot, 'di sila susurrender (Maybe the President said that to scare the drug personalities because this is psychological warfare. If they are not threatened, they will not surrender)," he said.
Escudero then categorically asked Dela Rosa if the PNP is "tolerating" drug-related killings done by police officials and vigilantes alike.
To which, Dela Rosa said: "No, your honor. That's why we are investigating these cases." – Rappler.com