Law already provides protection from EJK

A FORMER chief justice of the Supreme Court said that the law already provided mechanisms to protect citizens from

President Rodrigo Duterte has seen an ally in former Chief Justice Renato Puno, who left the Supreme Court with a legacy that would protect citizens from extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

In an interview with the TIMES, Puno said that the writ of amparo in fact ensured citizens of protection from extrajudicial killings.

There was no inconsistency with the writ, which was mandated to complement the absence of measures in effect from the writ of habeas corpus, and the government’s war on drugs.

The writ of amparo ensures that state agents such as the military and police would be compelled to protect anyone seeking protection from atrocities such as kidnapping and other threats.

The filing may be made by anyone at any court at any time of day.

“I do not think there is any inconsistency,” Puno said.

“The President has never declared that in this war against drugs he is repudiating the rule of law, that he is violating human rights. He has never taken that position,” he added.

Puno even cited the latest development in Duterte’s drug war and the response of the Philippine National Police to the alleged tokhang-for-ransom-slay of South Korean Jee Ick-joo at the hands of cops inside Camp Crame.

Puno made the pronouncement the same day of Duterte’s midnight declaration of a war against the perpetrators of the crime.

In Malacanang, Duterte said he was giving the National Bureau of Investigation 24 hours to investigate the alleged involvement of its own agents in the crime.

“You look at the latest development,” Puno said. “Obviously, some serious crimes were committed by members of the police, NBI and perhaps and some other government law enforcement agents in conspiracy with one another. Look at what he did. Immediately, he took charge of the situation… he told that these people be charged in court for violating the rights of the Korean.”

Puno said that the writ would “strengthen the people’s faith in our law enforcement agencies.”

“The standards used there are standards approved by the United Nations. So if you follow this, the law enforcement agencies will gain more the respect of the people,” he added.

Puno claimed that people trusted in the writ of amparo more than they did the writ of habeas corpus.

Knights of Rizal

The former Chief Justice was in town Monday to help organize the Knights of Rizal’s 21st National Assembly, to be held next month in the cities of Davao and Tagum, Davao del Norte.

The major theme of the assembly is the federal system, with President Duterte himself invited to the event.

Mr. Duterte is a Knight of Rizal himself.

According to Puno, national hero Jose Rizal was the first to say that the Philippines needs to shift from a unitary system of government to that of a federal setup.

Moves to change the charter from previous administrations, such as that of former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not gain traction as these were seen as moves to extend their terms.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law, meanwhile, did not pass muster in the Senate and the Supreme Court because of the same constitution that needs to be amended, he said.

“That is again one reason why I am espousing this charter change, not only because I am in favor of federalism. Because I want to look at again the balance of power distributed between and among the different departments … perhaps there is a need for rebalancing,” Puno said.

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