President Rodrigo Duterte renewed his vow on Sunday, July 17, to protect ‘honest’ cops, those who do not fabricate evidence, in the anti-drug campaign should they be arraigned for their actions.
Speaking at the Malacañang Palace, Duterte said he discovered something he could use to fight off those who would stave off the gains of the campaign. “Meron akong nakita sa Constitution,” he divulged to the audience. “Ito ang panlaban ko (I saw something in the Constitution. This is my weapon): The right or the power of the president to pardon.”
Thus, cops who face charges or who are arraigned after their participation in an anti-drug operation can count on getting presidential pardon easily anytime. In fact, to facilitate the release of the pardon, Duterte will provide piles of pre-signed pardon documents.
“Pagdating ng panahon, sinabing arraignment, kumuha ka diyan [ng pardon]. Maraming kopya, pre-signed,” the president said. (If the time comes and you are arraigned, just get your pardon papers there. You’d find a lot of copies, pre-signed).
But the president stressed that everything should be legitimate and truthful. “Sabi ko sa mga pulis (I told the police), do not lie to me,” he warned cops who would be arraigned. “Mag-trabaho kayo, huwag kayong mag-imbento (Do your work, don’t invent [stories]). Do not fabricate evidence,” he added.
The president’s power to endow executive clemency is based on the provision found under Section 19, Article VII of the Philippine Constitution, saying:
“Except in cases of impeachment, or as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the President may grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment.
He shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the members of the Congress.”
But what if more than one policeman or soldier gets arraigned in one day? Duterte assured the police and military that “I will not hesitate to pardon 10, 15 military and policemen every day.”
In fact, Duterte said he won’t even hesitate to pardon himself should he be charged or arraigned during his anti-crime campaigns nationwide.
“Pag-alis ko ng Malacañang, magpirma ako dito — pardon is hereby granted to Rodrigo Duterte, signed Rodrigo Duterte,” (When I leave Malacanang [after his presidency], I’m going to sign—pardon is hereby granted to Rodrigo Duterte. Signed, Rodrigo Duterte), he told the audience with what seemed a hint of preposterousness.
So far, some 103 people have been killed during police operations against illegal drugs and crime from May 10 to July 3, according to the Philippine National Police. The number of casualties is expected to rise further as Duterte’s anti-drug campaign nears it targeted duration of 3 to 6 months.