April 20, 2018 / 8:33 AM / 3 months ago

Philippine government to ask court for extra time to produce drug war records

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine government will ask the Supreme Court for more time to answer its order to hand over records of thousands of deadly encounters in its war on drugs, and will not comply until the president agrees, the national police chief said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Agents of the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) take part in a briefing before a drug raid in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

The high court on April 3 gave police 15 days to comply with a December order to submit records related to the bloody drugs war, which the solicitor-general attempted to block on the grounds of national security, arguing it could endanger police, informants and witnesses.

“As of this time, there is a motion being prepared,” the new national police chief, Oscar Albayalde, told a news conference.

He said the police would take orders from President Rodrigo Duterte before releasing any information about the drugs war.

“Maybe, even without the Supreme Court order, he may order us to give the records,” he added.

Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said he was unaware of any submission from the police.

About 4,100 people have since June 2016 been killed by police and several thousand more by unknown gunmen whom the authorities have described as vigilantes, or rival gang members.

Police deny activist allegations they have falsified reports, staged crime scenes and systematically murdered small time peddlers and users, and say those killed had violently resisted arrest.

In December, the court ordered Solicitor-General Jose Calida to submit details of those killed in police operations and other drug-related deaths. It also asked for information on each deadly encounter, the police and witnesses involved, and to see copies of warrants against all suspects who were killed.

The order covers the period between July 2016 and November 2017, when two complainants, including a group of Manila slum dwellers, petitioned the court to make details publicly available.

Calida filed a motion attempting to keep operational details secret, but the court dismissed that.

Albayalde’s predecessor, Ronald dela Rosa, on Wednesday said the 15-day deadline was unfeasible because the paperwork was “voluminous”.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty

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