Police crafting dos and don'ts in serving a subpoena

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) is crafting guidelines on how to serve a subpoena, a police official said Thursday, March 15.

The guidelines, which are being drafted by the PNP legal and policy service unit, will contain the dos and don'ts in serving a subpoena that will be issued by the PNP chief, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director and CIDG deputy director for administration.

“Sa aming tatlo na available na binigyan ng power na mag-issue ng subpoena hindi naman dapat magkaroon ng guideline, ang dapat namin bigyan ng guideline ay ‘yung paano i-serve, how our policemen will serve it,” he said.

(There is no need to craft guidelines on the issuance of a subpoena. What we should draw up are guidelines on how our policemen should serve such a subpoena.)

“Bakit nilimit lang sa tatlo (ang pwedeng mag-issue ng subpoena, para maiwasan nga na magkakaroon ng pabago-bagong pag-implement o paggamit (ng subpoena),” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed on March 1 Republic Act 10973 which gives power to the chief PNP and top 2 officials of the CIDG “to administer oath and issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum in relation to its investigation.”

Lawmakers have urged the PNP to craft guidelines to allay fears that the police might abuse its power to issue a subpoena.

Obusan said he does not see any opportunity for abuse because such power is “very limited” compared to that the court or Congress, which may cite an individual for contempt if he refuses to respond to a subpoena.

He said that if they issue a subpoena and the subject refuses to abide by it, they will still have to file a petition before the court in order to cite the person in contempt.

“Tanungin nyo ‘yung ibang may power kung dadaan pa sa korte at i-penalize, no, sila ay direct contempt ang bibigay sayo. Sa PNP it is powers with so many limitations. So napakabait ng PNP ang hingin lang namin we just wanted to have evidences so ‘yung powers kahit na may limitations so far so good tinanggap namin, kinakalugod namin because it was a power with limits,” said Obusan.

“Look around internationally and locally and (compare) here in the PNP. Mas mabigat subpoena powers nila. Bakit kayo atat na ata na sa PNP because it will be prone to abuse? Just give the organization a chance. It is for everybody, we want us change, give us a chance, kasi we want to build up the image gusto naman namin ipakita na mabilis kaming umaksyon sa mga kaso,” he added.

Earlier, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa himself vowed that they will not abuse such power.

Personally, dela Rosa said he will not use this power if the CIDG director and his deputy are present and fully functional.

Meanwhile, Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año assured that they will closely monitor the PNP's use of its subpoena power.

He also clarified that the primary purpose of the new law is to allow the PNP to gather more evidence so that cases filed in court will not be dismissed.

“The DILG will be on the lookout for any hint of abuse that may be committed by the PNP in carrying out its restored subpoena powers and we will see to it that this will be used only for the intention that it was granted,” he said.

"Many cases filed with the Prosecutor and the courts are dismissed for lack of or weak evidence. The grant of subpoena powers will strengthen the cases filed by the PNP and ensure that justice is served," he added.

Año said he sees nothing wrong in giving the PNP, particularly the PNP chief and the top two CIDG officials, subpoena powers just like the National Bureau of Investigation.

He said a subpoena will be issued only in circumstances when witnesses refuse to cooperate in a police investigation.

He said the law took into consideration the plight of the victims of crimes and their families who have been denied justice because of the refusal of witnesses to testify in court.

“This new law takes the best intentions of the crime victims at heart because they may finally get the justice that they have been longing for as witnesses will now be obliged to appear before the police,” said Ano. (SunStar Philippines)


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