THE Supreme Court issued a writ of amparo Tuesday against Oplan Tokhang, the anti-drug campaign of the Philippine National Police that has led to the killing of about 7,000 drug suspects since July 2016.
In an en banc session, the justices also ordered PNP chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa and other police officials to answer the petition filed by a survivor and the families of four drug suspects killed in an operation in Payatas, Quezon City last year.
A writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose rights to life, liberty and security are threatened.
The Court gave Dela Rosa and other respondents five days to submit their comments to the Court of Appeals, which has been tapped to hear the case and to submit its findings.
The appeals court was also ordered to decide on the relief sought in the petition and decide within 10 days after its submission for decision.
In the meantime, the Court granted the petitioners’ request for a temporary protection order against Quezon City anti-narcotics police officers from Station 6 who conducted the operation in August last year.
The order bars Dela Rosa, Quezon City Police District director Senior Supt. Guillermo Eleazar and other named police officers from entering the residence and workplaces of the petitioners, and orders them to stay at least one kilometer away from them.
The order came one day after the PNP suspended Oplan Tokhang over a scandal in which police kidnapped and murdered a South Korean businessman and extorted P5 million from his wife, who did not know he was already dead.
The petition of the group led by Efren Morillo, the survivor of the police operation last year, and who is set to testify against police officials accused of murder and frustrated murder, is the first case to challenge in court the PNP operations against illegal drugs.
The appeals court will decide on a petition for a temporary restraining order against the named police officers, and an order for the PNP to produce intelligence and surveillance reports, police blotters, video and all other documents involving police operations conducted on Aug. 21, 2016.
The petition was filed Jan. 26, one day after Chief Jutice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said there was a perception that the rule of law was being diminished by the unsolved killings of drug suspects.
Morillo was joined by the families of slain drug suspects Marcelo Daa Jr., Raffy Gabo, Anthony Comendo and Jessie Cule in filing the petition through the legal assistance of the Center for International Law.
They sought relief under the writ of amparo from the Supreme Court to prevent further violation of their constitutional and human rights to life, liberty and security.
Morillo said he fears for his life as he is being tapped as a vital witness in the cases being prepared against the police officials.
The 28-year-old vegetable vendor also cited the filing of charges of direct assault against him, which he insisted were trumped up and clearly part of the persecution by the perpetrators.
The petitioners further pointed out that the policemen in the actual operation were members of a police community precinct that did not have operational jurisdiction in Barangay Payatas.
The policemen hid this by fabricating death certificates of the four slain suspects showing that the incident took place in another barangay under their jurisdiction.
The petitioners said the four slain suspects were just garbage collectors and scavengers at the dump site.
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