SolGen Calida to PNP: I will defend police in war on drugs

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – Solicitor General Jose Calida said Monday police officers facing harassment cases in connection with the administration’s war on drugs can expect legal support from his office.

Calida made the statement after meeting Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald Dela Rosa at Camp Crame. He said he will not allow anyone to obstruct the government's efforts to stop the drug menace in the country.

"I am here to encourage the PNP not to be afraid of any Congressional or Senate investigations,” Calida said. “We will defend them. If there is a fiscalizer, I am the neutralizer and the defender of the PNP.”

Calida was responding to a call by Sen. Leila De Lima, a former Justice Secretary, for a probe on the series of drug-related killings by the police.

De Lima has expressed alarm over daily reports of suspected drug dealers and even users killed in police operations. According to PNP, there were 103 suspects killed and 5,845 arrested from May 10 to July 3 in anti-illegal drugs operations.

Related: 4 drug-related deaths daily – PNP

"What happened during her tenure?” Calida said. Answering his own question, he said, “Lalong lumakas ang proliferation of drugs even in her own turf."

[Translation: The proliferation of drugs worsened even in her own turf.]

He said De Lima apparently has not done enough to stop the drug menace as Justice Secretary in charge of the National Bureau of Investigation, the prosecution service and the correctional institutions. He said that the Senate probe on the killings is not principally intended to help stop drug trafficking.

Hindi po ito (This is not an) investigation in aid of legislation. To me, I think, it is investigation in aid of media mileage,” he said.

“This is a serious situation now, hindi papogihan sa (it’s not to look good in the) media,” he said. “The police are risking their lives. It is the height of naiveté for Secretary De Lima, who apparently does not know the mind of a crazed drug addict."

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He said there is always a “presumption of regularity” in all police operations, that's why De Lima's call for a hearing is based purely on hearsay. Presumption of regularity implies authorities follow the law, including police rules of engagement by shooting suspects only in self-defense.

Calida said during De Lima’s term as Justice Secretary, illegal drugs proliferated especially in the New Bilibid Prison. He said his office is considering filing charges against De Lima in connection with that.

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