Subpoenas intended for ‘wealthy’ and ‘well-learned’ – PNP CIDG chief

Rambo Talabong

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Subpoenas intended for ‘wealthy’ and ‘well-learned’ – PNP CIDG chief
(UPDATED) PNP CIDG chief Roel Obusan quashes fears that the subpoena will be used against the poor and defenseless

CIDG CHIEF. Director Roel Obusan speaks to reporters about the PNP's new subpoena powers in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Allaying fears that their new subpoena powers are anti-poor, Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Director Roel Obusan said the documents will primarily be used against “the well-learned” and the “wealthy.”

“Based on statistics, there are more high-profile cases committed by wealthy or well-learned individuals, because street criminals are usually not high-profile cases but petty crimes. So this is intended more on the well-learned and wealthy,” Obusan said in a Camp Crame press conference on Monday, March 12.

Context: President Rodrigo Duterte recently returned the powers of the PNP to issue subpoenas through the PNP chief and the CIDG’s top two officials.

The document orders its recipient to present himself to a venue to testify and/or present evidence. This has raised fears that the PNP will use its new powers haphazardly in its ongoing intensified campaigns against illegal drugs, terrorism, and insurgency, with the poor supposedly left most defenseless. (READ: No rules to issue subpoenas, ‘conscience’ is enough – PNP chief Dela Rosa)


How to target the wealthy? With subpoena powers limited to PNP chief and the CIDG’s top 2, Obusan said cases they will sign are bound to be limited to “high-profile” and “sensational” cases, with suspects usually coming from higher economic classes.

Small cases asking for a subpoena have no place in the office of the CIDG, and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said that he will only limit his signature to “extreme cases.”

Aside from high-profile crimes, the CIDG is mandated to tackle high-impact crimes like economic sabotage and severe violations of the Penal Code. Petty crimes are mandated to fall under local police stations.

“The PNP has no fear or favor, what matters is the dispensation of justice and justice is for all,” Obusan added. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.