The magnitude of our nation’s problem with the Drug Menace has indeed reached staggering proportions. The extent to which this scourge has pervaded all sectors and strata of Philippine society is nothing less than shocking.

For this reason, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines applauds the very serious efforts of the present administration to seriously address this grave problem.

However, we are a nation of laws and not of men and, as such, must never lose sight of the very foundation of our democracy, the idea that the rule of law must prevail. It is at times such as these, when the temptation to take extralegal measures is at its height, that our conviction to abide by this principle must likewise be at its strongest.

The alarming spate of what are reported to be vigilante killings of suspected drug users and pushers, as well as the increasing number of reported arrest-related deaths of drug suspects, deserves serious attention.

It is in the light of these matters that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines strongly urges the Philippine National Police, other law enforcement agencies and the Office of the Ombudsman to give due attention to the serious and credible investigation and resolution of these incidents and the prosecution of the wrongdoers to the full extent of the law.

It must not be forgotten that regardless of whether or not the victim is a drug offender, unjustified killing is murder nonetheless. Likewise, while our law enforcers have every right, and even the duty, to utilize deadly force when necessary to protect themselves and innocent bystanders, the abuse of this authority is equally criminal.

In ending, the situation calls for recalling the Supreme Court’s reminder in the case of Allado vs. Diokno, to wit:

“While the State has every right to prosecute and punish violators of the law, this does not confer a license for pointless assaults on its citizens‚Ķ The right of the State to prosecute is not a carte blanche for government agents to defy and disregard the rights of its citizens under the Constitution. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees the preservation of the people’s natural rights which include personal liberty and security against invasion by the government or any of its branches or instrumentalities. Certainly, in the hierarchy of rights, the Bill of Rights takes precedence over the right of the State to prosecute‚Ķ”