THE Police Regional Office in Davao Region lauded the law authorizing the Philippine National Police (PNP) high-ranking officials to have subpoena powers, as this will now hasten the criminal investigation.
PRO Davao Region director Police Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan said that the signing by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last March 1, 2018 of Republic Act 10973, which amends Republic Act 6975 or the Local Government Code restoring the subpoena powers of the PNP and PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), is timely.
“It's about time. Since the time of Philippine Constabulary, it was only the Chief of CIS (now Director, CIDG) who has subpoena powers,” he said.
Under the new law, the PNP chief and CIDG director and deputy director for administration are given consent "to administer oath and to issue a subpoena and subpoena duces tecum in relation to its investigation."
It also said that the subpoena shall state the nature and purpose of investigation, shall be directed to the person whose attendance is required, and in the case of a subpoena duces tecum, it shall also contain a reasonable description of the books, documents, or things demanded which must be relevant to the investigation.
"Failure to comply with subpoena and subpoena duces tecum shall authorize the filing of a case for indirect contempt under the Rules of Court with the Regional Trial Court," the law reads.
Before the passage of the law, only the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the National Police Commission, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Cybercrime Investigation Coordination Center's Cybercrime Operation Center have the power to issue subpoenas.
“With the new law, more would be given the same subpoena powers to facilitate and expedite investigation of criminal offenses,” he said.
This law also drew apprehension from the public for potential abuse of power; however, Gaerlan assured that police will adhere to the law. This is not also to take advantage of the people but to protect the victims through enhancing the police capacity in gathering documents and securing witnesses in the conduct of its investigations for faster resolution of the case.
“The people should not worry about abuses of said powers because the officers concerned could be held accountable. Ang dapat matakot diyan ay yung mga kriminal. The law is intended to protect victims,” he said.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on March 13, 2018.
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