THE House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 21, approved on third and final reading a bill restoring the subpoena powers of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
Congressmen voted 193-7 to approve House Bill No. 4863, otherwise known as the "Strengthening of the Philippine National Police- Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) By Restoring its Authority To Issue Subpoena Ad Testificandum Or Subpoena Duces Tecum."
Subpoena Ad Testificandum is a document that compels respondents in a complaint to appear and testify while Subpoena Duces Tecum compels a subject to submit a document.
The bill amends Republic Act 6975 or the Local Government Act of 1990.
Aside from giving the PNP-CIDG subpoena powers, the bill also gives the director and the deputy directors of the unit the authority to administer an oath.
The proposed measure also named the PNP-CIDG the lead investigating unit in all cases of violation of the Revised Penal Code, "unless the President assigns the case exclusively under the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)."
Among those who voted against the approval of the bill were members of the Makabayan bloc: Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, Gabriela party-list Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.
In a statement, Zarate said the measure, once enacted, "can potentially be subjected to abuse."
Gabriela Reps. De Jesus and Brosas, meanwhile, said the bill will only lead to intensified harrasment of supposed "enemies" the state.
"Granting PNP-CIDG subpoena powers will only lead to intensified harassment of perceived criminals and enemies of the state, wholesale legal attacks against government critics, and worse rights violations at a time when the Duterte regime is dangerously flirting with the idea of a revolutionary government," Gabriela said.
"This is yet again another indication of the Duterte regime’s path to tyrannical rule," the group added.
Elago of the Kabataan party-list urges the youth to fight against the "tyrannical ruling of the Duterte administration".
"We call on everyone, especially the youth, to stand against this threat, lest we all suffer another decade of injustice and brutality in the hands of a merciless dictator," she added. (SunStar Philippines)