MANILA, Philippines – Relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings in San Andres Bukid in Manila take their fight to the Supreme Court to seek protection from policemen who they accuse of masterminding 35 killings in their community. Solicitor General Jose Calida, however, calls their stories hearsay and their petition, a destabilization plot. (READ: Destabilization or ripe for suspension? Day 2 of SC drug war oral arguments)
Lian Buan reports. – Rappler.com
Francisco Blanco recalls the night of November 30, 2016, when his brother was killed by masked men.
FRANCISCO BLANCO, PETITIONER: I saw what was happening because my sibling's house is at the back, my house is in front. I saw them enter my house. The police made everyone go out of the house, but I didn't see my brother go out. So when I realized there was a shooting, I knew they shot my brother.
Today, he sits inside the Supreme Court building to ask justices for protection from policemen of Manila Police District Station 6.
Blanco and his co-petitioners accuse the policemen of masterminding 35 killings in their community in San Andres Bukid in a span of a year.
FRANCISCO BLANCO, PETITIONER: I feel like I'm next. I'm not evil. I was just dragged into this. How will I live my life if I'm always scared? Cops have gone back to me twice.
The Solicitor General claims their stories are hearsay.
He even accuses the petitioners of being part of a destabilization plot.
JOSE CALIDA, SOLICITOR GENERAL: In their prayer, they said the Supreme Court should prohibit the PNP as well as DILG offficers and all of them not to obey the President in his directives whether it's oral or written. You can't do that – that is destabilizing to our government.
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen tells the Solicitor General that dissent is not destabilization.
Because if it is, Sister Nenet Daño should be considered the lead destabilizer.
A nun and social worker in San Andres Bukid, Sister Nenet did the groundwork for the petitions.
SR JUANITA "NENET" DAÑO, PETITIONER: Fear, maybe at first, but if you see and hear them cry, it goes away. For me, this is a fight for life and nothing else, to give those addicted to drugs the chance to reform and give justice to the ones left behind.
Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa attends the oral arguments on Tuesday, November 28.
He tells the High Court he has ordered his men not to kill, except under extreme circumstances.
This means policemen cannot pull the trigger.
Unless a bullet is about to hit them.
GENERAL RONALD "BATO" DELA ROSA, PNP CHIEF: If Supreme Court decides that it's unconstitutional, that's still our mandate in law enforcement, because drug laws are still there. We have to support PDEA, so we'll just go back to our anti-drug operations manual.
Manila Police District Chief Senior Superintendent Joel Coronel is also at the Supreme Court.
He says the allegations of Francisco and Sister Nenet are being investigated.
S/SUPT. JOEL CORONEL, MPD CHIEF: Some of those cases in the Daño petition are being handled by IAS (Internal Affairs Service) now.
While top officials, lawyers and justices debate inside the walls of the highest court of the land, there are people on the ground who live in constant fear for their lives.
FRANCISCO BLANCO, PETITIONER: To those handling our case, please, we are fighting for nothing but the truth. It hurts but I'm also scared. I hope you'll be fair, look at our side, and our suffering.
What is the purpose of fighting for the rule of law, if it cannot be felt by people like Francisco?
Lian Buan, Rappler, Manila.