Senate panels urge Duterte to punish cops who violate law

10-Dec-2016 Intellasia | CNN Philippines | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Senate committees that probed alleged extrajudicial killings in the drug war urged President Rodrigo Duterte to punish erring policemen and to avoid giving statements that may encourage them to kill suspected criminals.

After six legislative inquiries, the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs filed a joint report.

A copy of its 19-page executive summary was obtained by the media late Wednesday.

The Senate panels said it is the President’s responsibility as commander-in-chief to prevent the police from committing illegal acts and penalise them if they violate the law.

“Uncorrected or unpunished even when they have erred, the police may believe that they are above the law,” according to the report, which has been signed by the committee chairmen and some members.

“The war against illegal drugs must be won within the legal system, and the President must lead in reminding the people of this important message,” the report said.

But until his latest speech on Wednesday, Duterte maintained he will not let policemen land in jail – even those charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for murder in the November 5 killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa.

Malacanang on Thursday clarified, Duterte said this to boost the morale of the police, but stressed the President would not interfere with any legal proceedings.

Senate to Duterte: Be careful with your words

The senators gave a “word of caution” to the President that his tough talk against drug suspects may have “emboldened” police forces to take matters into their own hands.

“The President needs to be mindful of his role as head of State and be careful with his words, avoid inappropriate statements lest they be construed as policies of the State,” the report said.

It cited a part of Duterte’s speech when he first addressed the Philippine National Police on July 1 as their commander in chief: “Do your duty and if in the process, you kill 1,000 persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you.”

The Senate panels ruled there is no proof of state-sponsored killings to eradicate the illegal drug trade. But senators reminded the President that even accused drug users, pushers, and drug lords are entitled to rights under the Constitution.

They said the police should never ask drug surrenderees to sign “voluntary surrender certificates” through “Oplan Tokhang” or other programmes.

“Serving the nation entails doing justice to every man, even if he is a drug pusher or a drug lord,” the report read.

Holding the police accountable

During an October 13 hearing, Manila Police District Chief Supt. Joel Coronel testified that some killings of drug suspects have been attributed to policemen trying to neutralise drugs suppliers who might speak up against them.

Police data show over 2,000 suspects were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1 to December 3.

In the report, the Senate committees are asking Congress and the Supreme Court to create special criminal courts to provide speedy trials of crimes allegedly committed by police officers.

Senators also want to amend Republic Act No. 8551, or the PNP Reform and Reorganisation Act, to enable the Internal Affairs Service to swiftly conduct an investigation on rogue cops.

It said the IAS must be able to report killings involving policemen within five days from the time of incident and recommend the filing of administrative or criminal charges 15 days after.

The report said the public should be educated that they can file complaints against erring policemen before the PNP, local government units, and the People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB), which should be in every city and town.


Category: Philippines

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