Lawmaker worried subpoena powers for CIDG prone to abuse

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MANILA, Philippines — A party-list lawmaker is worried the passage of a bill restoring the powers of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to issue subpoenas could lead to abuses.

“If enacted into law, with the current human rights situation in the country, this bill would grant additional powers to the PNP-CIDG that can be potentially subjected to abuse,” Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said.

The House of Representatives, voting 193-7, approved on third and final reading late Monday House Bill No. 4863 restoring the CIDG’s authority to issue subpoenas ad testificandum or subpoenas duces tecum.

A subpoena ad testificandum requires a person to testify, while a subpoena duces tecum requires the production of documents or items that are prima facie relevant to a case or investigation.

Under the bill, the PNP chief will have the “sole power to issue subpoena ad testificandum or subpoena duces tecum upon the recommendation of the Director of the CIDG in an investigation or inquiry of the CIDG.”

It also provides that the “director and the deputy directors of the CIDG shall have the power to administer oath upon cases under investigation, provided that the attendance or submission of evidence of an absent or recalcitrant witness may be enforced by application to any trial court.”

Under the Duterte administration, thousands of suspected drug pushers or users have been killed in the course of the police’s waging of the government’s war on drugs.

Last month, reacting to criticisms of widely suspected police abuses in the drug war, Duterte transferred the anti-narcotics campaign to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

But on Wednesday, November 22, he said he is inclined to return the campaign to the police.

The measure will amend Section 35 of Republic Act No. 6975 or the Department of Interior and Local Government Act of 1990.

The DILG law repealed the authority of the old police Criminal Investigation Service, under a 1969 law, “to administer oaths upon cases under investigation and to issue subpoena or subpoenas duces tecum for the appearance at government expenses of any person for investigation or production of documents and other matters therein.”