AFP,PNP barred from setting up detachment inside private property under CARP

June 1, 2010 8:35 pm 

MANILA, June 1 – The Department of Justice (DOJ) said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) cannot establish a detachment inside a private property covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program's (CARP's) implementation.

This was declared by Acting DOJ Secretary and concurrent Solicitor General Alberto Agra on his interpretation of the joint Circular No. 05 issued jointly by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of National Defense (DND).

Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC) project officer Danny Carranza sought the DOJ's legal opinion about the legality of establishing a police or military detachment inside a private property, which is under CARP's implementation.

PCICC is a coalition of human rights groups lobbying for the Philippine ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Agra said that the DOJ could not formally issue the requested legal opinion as it was the department's policy to render opinions or give legal advise "only upon request of national government functionaries such as heads of departments, chiefs of bureaus and offices of equivalent rank and then only on specific questions of law."

Instead, Agra gave his interpretation on the joint circular to guide Carranza.

Agra said that the DAR personnel may, upon request, seek only the assistance of police and military authorities in order to gain entry into landholdings for the purpose of conducting field investigation, surveying and other related activities for the implementation of CARP.

"It is clear from the foregoing provisions that what is contemplated in the subject circular is the right of entry only into the landholdings by the operatives of the PNP and the AFP, whenever necessary, and in no manner it includes the establishment of a police/military detachment within the aforementioned properties," Agra said.

Carranza's request arose from the alleged inability of nine leaseholders reinstated within the Matias property in San Francisco, Quezon, on Feb. 11, 2010 to maintain possession and cultivation of the said properties due to alleged presence of armed men of the landowner.

He said that such harassment being experienced by poor farmers would continue unless the government provided them security.

Carranza said that during the PCICC's dialogue with DAR officials, it was suggested that the establishment of a police or military detachment within the premises of subject property might be the solution to the continuing threat to the security of the farmers.

"Accordingly, he [ DOJ secretary] has, in practice, consistently declined to render opinion or give legal advice to other government officials and to individual entities," Agra said. (PNA)

RMA/PTR

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