National ID and subpoena powers for PNP, CIDG, add’l tools for witch-hunt, all-out repression

"The Duterte regime is definitely on a roll! Not with solving the country’s socioeconomic problems, but in ensuring those who advocate for long-term solutions to our dire political and economic state are monitored, criminalized and penalized. Duterte and his minions have busied themselves with legislation, petitions, and measures to legitimize the witch-hunt and repression of groups and individuals, cementing their role as the architects of a looming dictatorship,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, citing the national ID system and the recently signed law giving subpoena powers to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and its Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), as among the recent repressive measures put forward by the Duterte government.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon announced on March 7, 2018 that the national identification system will proceed even without the passage of the national ID system bill. The implementation is estimated to cost around PhP20billion. The House of Representatives already approved its version of the said bill in September last year.
“The national ID system is wolf in sheep’s clothing. Disguised as an “economic and social tool”, it becomes a mechanism for control and repression in the hands of the military. Aligned with the government’s counterinsurgency campaign, this bill will be used to monitor and harass citizens. With reports from regions that residents are not being issued barangay clearance “upon orders of the military” to justify their allegations that such persons are NPA, this puts many in peasant and indigenous communities in more vulnerable situations,” Palabay explained.
 
Last week, Duterte regime also signed into law a measure giving the PNP chief, the CIDG Deputy Director for Administration, and other senior police officials the power to issue subpoenas to “hasten investigation of crimes.” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque added that this “will add more teeth to the PNP’s mandate to enhance the law and find solution to criminal cases.”
 
“The subpoena law is a measure that was discreetly planned, precisely because it would create waves of protest. This was all kept hush-hush, designed to increase the powers of an already abusive police force. This law is a pandora’s box that will trump and disregard people’s civil and political rights. The PNP and the CIDG has long ignored its mandate of serving the Filipino people,” commented Palabay.
 
The Karapatan leader emphasized that the police have long been involved in various repressive schemes, including illegal arrests, illegal search and seizures, planting of evidence, and corrupt practices. “Duterte’s obsession with his war on drugs, with the PNP as main implementer, has exposed the brutal and fascist character of the police force. We have seen rights violations knowingly committed by the police, emboldened by the protection granted to them by this government. Now, we have another law that will give them more power to abuse,” she added.

“The CIDG is a known celestial entity that draws up narratives from an unknown universe and passes it off as the truth. It is  a virtual factory of lies, churning out fictional stories to enable the filing of trumped up charges against individuals. Their favorite element in their stories is providing justification for the planting of evidence by the police,” said Palabay, citing the cases of peace consultant Rafael Baylosis, Ferdinand Castillo, among other cases that exemplify the role of the CIDG in whipping up trumped up charges against activists.
 
“The Duterte regime is adding more and more in its arsenal of repressive legislation. This criminal government is strangling the Filipino people, restricting platforms for protest while criminalizing human rights work. Consistent with the trend of tyrannical regimes, Duterte has dispatched his forces in all branches of government to closely monitor citizens, and to ensure that any and all possible areas of dissent are systematically removed and crushed. With the national ID system and the law giving PNP and the CIDG subpoena powers, the Duterte regime is practically enacting a witch-hunt tool and effectively legislating, legitimizing repression,” concluded Palabay.