Remedial Law

Aileen Almora vs PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa

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G.R. No. 234539 – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Writ of Habeas Data – Drug war records have no national security implications – can be subjected to habeas data

In 2017, the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) petitioned with the Supreme Court to have Duterte’s war on drugs be declared as unconstitutional. In particular, the FLAG wants Dela Rosa’s Oplan Double Barrel be declared unconstitutional. Under Oplan Tokhang, data will be collected against suspected personalities involved in illegal drugs and such data gathered. Under Oplan Double Barrel, the PNP is authorized to use force to neutralize or negate threats from personalities involved in drugs. It was argued before the Supreme Court that the use of such words authorized extralegal killings.

One of the issues tackled during the oral arguments is whether or not the public may subject data gathered under Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Doube Barrel to a petition for habeas data. Sol. Gen Jose Calida answered in the negative as he argued that the information is exempt from habeas data because they have national security implications.

ISSUE: Whether or not Calida is correct.

HELD: No. Contrary to the claim of the Solicitor General, the requested information and documents do not obviously involve state secrets affecting national security. The information and documents relate to routine police operations involving violations of laws against the sale or use of illegal drugs. There is no showing that the country’s territorial integrity, national sovereignty, independence, or foreign relations will be compromised or prejudiced by the release of these information and documents to this Court or even to the public. These information and documents do not involve rebellion, invasion, terrorism, espionage, infringement of our sovereignty or sovereign rights by foreign powers, or any military, diplomatic or state secret involving national security. It is simply ridiculous to claim that these information and documents on police operations against drug pushers and users involve national security matters so sensitive that even this Court cannot peruse these information and documents in deciding constitutional issues affecting the fundamental right to life and liberty of thousands of ordinary citizens.

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Note: This Resolution was unsigned due to the eventual impeachment and removal of former CJ Sereno.

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