SC orders OSG to release Tokhang documents

Supreme Court of the Philippines

The Supreme Court (SC) en banc on Tuesday issued an order directing Solicitor General Jose Calida to provide copies of all police reports on the government’s controversial anti-drug war to the petitioners in a case questioning the legality of Oplan Double Barrel, also known as Oplan Tokhang.

During the en banc session, the SC magistrates approved unanimously the order – which is an apparent move to seek transparency on President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody anti-drug campaign.

The Office of the Solicitor General had previously denied the SC’s previous request to submit the drug-war related documents, citing issues of national security.

The order granted the petitioner — Center for International Law (CenterLaw) and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) — copies of police and other investigation reports in connection with the killings of drug offenders in the bloody anti-drug war.

“These documents are the first step towards the long road for justice for the Petitioners and to thousands of victims of the ‘war on drugs’ and their families. CenterLaw extends its gratitude to the Supreme Court for upholding the basic and fundamental right of the Petitioners to due process, and for promoting transparency and integrity in the proceedings,” CenterLaw said in a statement.

The petition of the CenterLaw was strongly blocked previously by Calida, arguing that the documents release will put at risk national security and noted that the petitioners were not entitled to the rest of the documents as their cases only cover specific killings in Metro Manila.

The government has only recognized 5,000 killed as a result of police operations though human rights groups claimed there are 20,000 or more cases of killing.

The SC en banc needs to decide on the main petitions which seek to declare the entire campaign against illegal drugs unconstitutional.