PNP subpoena powers only for 'extreme' circumstances – Roque

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday, March 12, said the controversial subpoena powers granted to the Philippine National Police (PNP) will only be used in "extreme" circumstances.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed a law allowing PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and the top two officials of the PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to issue subpoenas.

"Like all laws it can be abused, but the objective of the law is to bolster the investigation capability of the PNP," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a Palace briefing on Monday, March 12.

"I suppose because of the fact that there are limited signatories to the subpoenas, that it will be reserved for the extreme circumstance where individuals have absolutely refused to cooperate in an ongoing police investigation. The fact that only 3 people can sign it of course would mean that it would not be resorted [to] as often as people might expect.... It's not going to be a common thing," he added.

Roque earlier said the law would be able to address any possible abuses of the subpoena powers granted to police officials.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, author of the new law, also said a person's rights would still be in place.

But critics like human rights lawyer Edre Olalia have denounced it as "Marcosian," referring to the dictatorship of the late president Ferdinand Marcos. (READ: Why PNP's new subpoena powers threaten our rights)

In a separate briefing on Monday, Dela Rosa said there is no need to specify internal rules for the issuance of subpoenas since they would just use their conscience.

CIDG chief Director Roel Obusan on Monday also sought to allay fears that the subpoena law would be used against the poor and defenseless.

"Based on statistics, there are more high-profile cases committed by wealthy or well-learned individuals.... So this is intended more [for] the well-learned and wealthy," Obusan said. – Rappler.com