PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) officials assured Monday, March 12, that they will not abuse their subpoena powers.
PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa pointed out that only three police officials are authorized to issue a subpoena and summon anybody deemed vital to an investigation.
They are the PNP chief, the director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and his deputy for administration.
“Bakit tatlo lang ang binigayan? Isa nga lang sana ang magbibigay ng subpoena, si chief PNP, but we know for a fact that at times hindi available si chief may travel sa ibang bansa or wherever at minsan kailangan ng speedy disposition of cases,” said CIDG director Roel Obusan.
(Why only three? There should have been only one, the PNP chief. But we know that the PNP chief is at times not available and there are cases that require speedy disposition.)
Dela Rosa, for his part, vowed that he will not use his subpoena power if the CIDG is fully functional.
“Gagamitin ko ba yan kung functional na ang CIDG? Sinabi ng batas na just in case wala ‘yung CIDG director or deputy, ako mag-issue pero kung functioning sila bakit pa ako? I don’t need to use that kung functioning na ang CIDG,” he said.
(The law states that I will issue the subpoena in case the CIDG director is not available. But I don't need to use that if CIDG is functioning.)
Dela Rosa said they will no longer draw up the implementing rules and regulations for Republic Act 10973, saying that using their conscience would suffice.
“Di ko na kailangan bigyan ng rules yan, tatlo lang naman kami—ako, CIDG director at deputy. Use your conscience nalang. Kung kailangan talaga gawin n’yo pag hindi kailangan wag nyong gamitin, ‘yun lang. Hindi na kailangan pa ng rules yan konsiyensahan nalang ito,” he said.
He said 15 days after the publication of the new law, they can already issue a subpoena if needed in the investigation being conducted by the CIDG.
However, Dela Rosa said as an internal administrative procedure, the two CIDG officials should inform him at least through a text message before issuing a subpoena although they do not have any administrative liability for not doing so.
Dela Rosa said the public has nothing to worry about this. He pointed out that the police do not have the power to detain any person who will not abide by the subpoena. To hold an individual, Dela Rosa said they have to go to court.
“The power given to us by Congress is not direct contempt, it's only indirect contempt meaning pag binuyo mo ako, sinubpoena kita matigas ka ayaw mo mag-appear or ibigay kailangan namin record then we will petition the court for indirect contempt. I-petition para hindi kagaya nung power ng congress or ng regular court na pag sabihan ka cited for contempt derecho ka kulong sa PNP hindi makapagsabi na you are cited for contempt kulong ka hindi pwede i-petition muna dapat namin,” he said.
“Kaya nga wag kayong matakot dito dahil marami nagsabi na papunta na tayo sa martial law dahil ang pulis ngayon naging very powerful na. Remember this power this subpoena powers were present in the Philippine Constabulary before but because of some negligence dun sa gumawa ng RA 6975 nawala itong power na ito so ngayon lang binabalik lang power na ito but limited,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed on March 1 RA 10973, which authorizes the PNP chief and top two officials of the CIDG “to administer oath and issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum in relation to its investigation.”
Subpoenas are being used to order a possible suspect or witnesses to present evidence as part of an ongoing investigation.
Dela Rosa said being able to issue a subpoena will effectively “add more teeth” to their mandate to enforce the law and find an immediate solution to criminal cases.
He cited the case of slain Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo.
“Example diyan ‘yung kagaya nung meron tayong kidnapping cases na mino-monitor gusto natin na mapin-down talaga itong kidnapper nakita natin sa CCTV ‘yung mga high-end na subdivision na pasok labas doon sasakyan ng suspect gusto natin hingin from the homeowners pero according sa legal nila hindi basta basta ilabas kung walang court order so nahirapan tayo,” Dela Rosa said.
Meanwhile, Obusan said such power will impact on “well-learned” and “wealthy” individuals as the CIDG deals only with high-profile cases.
He said based on statistics, there are more high-profile cases being committed by the wealthy and learned persons while the poor individuals are more likely to be involved in street crimes which the CIDG no longer handles.
“Part of the limitation, ang CIDG kasi being the criminal investigative arm of the PNP deals mainly on high profile and sensational cases so with that in mind yan isang pinaka boundary ng lahat it should be high profile and sensational cases that needs to be resolve the soonest possible time,” said Obusan.
“Pag petty crimes sa munisipyo hindi gagamitin ng subpoena pero pag high profile nangyari doon they should submit the case to CIDG. Ang proseso naman na kapag mataas ang kaso pinapasa sa CIDG,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)