April 17, 2009
You may not want to accept any invitation from the police. To all who gets invited in this way, you should be aware that the term became a favorite term when the Marcos military and police wants you to stay for an indeterminate period, without trial nor limit, in the safehouses and detention centers of the late dictator. This term survived the Marcos downfall and has become a euphemism for warrantless arrest by the police in situations where the legal basis for such does not exist.
It is so in the Trinidad Etong case. The QCPD invoked PD 1829 “PENALIZING OBSTRUCTION OF APPREHENSION AND PROSECUTION OF CRIMINAL OFFENDERS” as the basis for arresting Etong’s sister, brother and other housemates without any warrant of arrest based on a filing of a case and a court order. There are two major problems in citing this presidential decree. One, this PD is already superseded by the 1987 constitution and the criminal code. It can also be argued that PDs such as these do not anymore apply today. Two, there is nothing in this decree that exempts it from the requirement of a warrant of arrest.
This situation opens the door not only for violation of the human rights of the QCPD arrestees but also for criminal prosecution of the concerned police operatives and their superiors on the charge of abuse of authority. We are now under the rule of law and not of the dictator!
For reference, here is full PD 1829 the QCPD invoked:
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 1829 January 16, 1981
M a n i l a
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 1829
PENALIZING OBSTRUCTION OF APPREHENSION AND PROSECUTION OF CRIMINAL OFFENDERS
WHEREAS, crime and violence continue to proliferate despite the sustained vigorous efforts of the government to effectively contain them;
WHEREAS, to discourage public indifference or apathy towards the apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders, it is necessary to penalize acts which obstruct or frustrate or tend to obstruct or frustrate the successful apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND, E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law do hereby decree and order the following:
Section 1. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period, or a fine ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 pesos, or both, shall be imposed upon any person who knowingly or willfully obstructs, impedes, frustrates or delays the apprehension of suspects and the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases by committing any of the following acts:
(a) preventing witnesses from testifying in any criminal proceeding or from reporting the commission of any offense or the identity of any offender/s by means of bribery, misrepresentation, deceit, intimidation, force or threats;
(b) altering, destroying, suppressing or concealing any paper, record, document, or object, with intent to impair its verity, authenticity, legibility, availability, or admissibility as evidence in any investigation of or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or to be used in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases;
(c) harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape of, any person he knows, or has reasonable ground to believe or suspect, has committed any offense under existing penal laws in order to prevent his arrest prosecution and conviction;
(d) publicly using a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading prosecution or the execution of a judgment, or concealing his true name and other personal circumstances for the same purpose or purposes;
(e) delaying the prosecution of criminal cases by obstructing the service of process or court orders or disturbing proceedings in the fiscal’s offices, in Tanodbayan, or in the courts;
(f) making, presenting or using any record, document, paper or object with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases;
(g) soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept any benefit in consideration of abstaining from, discounting, or impeding the prosecution of a criminal offender;
(h) threatening directly or indirectly another with the infliction of any wrong upon his person, honor or property or that of any immediate member or members of his family in order to prevent such person from appearing in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or imposing a condition, whether lawful or unlawful, in order to prevent a person from appearing in the investigation of or in official proceedings in, criminal cases;
(i) giving of false or fabricated information to mislead or prevent the law enforcement agencies from apprehending the offender or from protecting the life or property of the victim; or fabricating information from the data gathered in confidence by investigating authorities for purposes of background information and not for publication and publishing or disseminating the same to mislead the investigator or to the court.
If any of the acts mentioned herein is penalized by any other law with a higher penalty, the higher penalty shall be imposed.
Section 2. If any of the foregoing acts is committed by a public official or employee, he shall in addition to the penalties provided thereunder, suffer perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Section 3. This Decree shall take effect immediately.
Done in the City of Manila, this 16th day of January, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty-one.