Spare PNP from politics, help in its reform programs

I’M saying this in the wake of recent development in the national scene which has a major bearing on the performance of the Philippine National Police and has given government critics all the ammunition they need to attack the Duterte government in general and the police force in particular and even demand  the resignation of Gen. Oscar Albayalde.

These include the videos circulating on social media linking President Duterte and his Family to illegal drug activities; the exposes made by former Colonel Jojo Acierto regarding the failure of some top officials to act on his expose on Michael Yang; the Supreme Court decision to order the release of police reports on fatal police anti-narcotics operations; and the anti-crime operations in Negros Oriental which left 14 suspected New People’s Army rebels and sympathizers dead.

Gen. Albayalde said he smells politics in the video dragging presidential son Paolo Duterte, his brother-in-law and President Duterte’s partner Honeylet to alleged irregularities citing the timing of its release which is barely six weeks before the May 13 national and local elections. “Ang nakikita natin dito ngayon is the timing. Bakit ngayon pang malapit na ang election,” said the top cop who added that he is expecting more similar black propagandas and complaints against the government and the police as the May 13 election draws nearer.

I agree with the PNP chief when he said it is now high time for all candidates including the incumbents to show to the entire world that the country can have a civilized election and not resort to ‘self-serving’ videos and black propagandas that are being easily spread thru the social media.

I also wish that the personalities named by Jojo Acierto in his latest expose would also be given the right space to air their side by the press in the real interest of fair, fearless and balanced reporting, their side not buried in the inside pages of newspapers or just mentioned briefly in radio and televisions reports. May the real truth be out here.

Last Friday, PNP spokesman, Colonel Bernie Banac defended the PNP from charges made by the Free Legal Assistance Group— one of its spokesperson ironically an opposition candidate in the senatorial polls— that police investigators have used a ‘nanlaban’ template in its after-operations reports on suspects killed in anti-narcotics operations since the Duterte administration launched its vaunted war on drugs in 2016.

“As a police agency that performs investigative functions, the PNP has its own standard format of writing an Investigation Report, and other forms of police correspondence. A common feature of an investigation report is the narrative description of the:  1. Essential elements of information such as What, Who, Where, When and How,  and 2. Basic elements of the offense to include the evidence in order to meet the requirements of the Court, in the same manner that a lawyer would write an affidavit or pleading for a client,” he said.

Having covered the police and the military force for 30 years already, I would say that the problem really lies on the inability of the operating troops and investigators to really express in the English language what actually happened on the scene of a shooting or an anti-crime or a counter-insurgency operation. Would you believe that many police officials —even those in Camp Crame—up to now are forced to edit reports or letters they need to sign because these reports/letters written by their subordinates are full of grammatical/spelling errors or lack cohesiveness and flow of thoughts.

Thus, 30 years after I started reading police and military reports on encounters and other operations, the reports are still the same but nobody really cared. For instance, there are thousands of reports on encounters between troops and the New People’s Army which says ‘nobody was hurt on the side of the government/that traces of blood were found at the escape route of the rebels/that the enemy suffered an undetermined casualties’ although no body was really found.

There are even reports that ‘the suspects fled by jumping off a 30-feet deep ravine’ as if they committed suicide since no human would survive such a fall without badly hurting himself or being killed in the process. There are also the almost same reports on suspects who were killed while trying to grab the gun of an officer inside a police station or a mobile car.

These have been happening since the 70s and 80s but nobody really cared since the only witnesses present are the officers themselves and beside, the slain suspect are known drug users or robbers who raped and killed a woman or a young girl by stabbing them repeatedly or bashing the victim’s head with a piece of rock.

This week, Gen. Albayalde fired back at members of the left-leaning Makabayan opposition bloc—I don’t know if they also have their own police security personnel but am sure are also getting their own fair share of congressional funds- which have called for his resignation in the aftermath of the killing of 14 men in separate raids in Negros Oriental the other Saturday.

Hear the angry Chief’s words: “Now the Filipino people knows who are the people in power supporting the leftist movement whose aim is to overthrow  a constitutionally elected government. We should also send a strong statement  to the Filipinos against these people supporting the perceived Enemies of the State to gain power themselves! They are the people who are willing to sacrifice even the lives of young students in their own propaganda against our country and government,” the PNP chief said.

“I attest that there is no basis to call for action against our part in the light of the death of 14 suspects during a recent series of police operations in Negros Oriental as I swiftly ordered the administrative relief of the Provincial Director of Negros PPO and three Chiefs of Police in the province to pave the way to the thorough investigation on the incidents,”  he added as he assured that “the corresponding investigation by the PNP Internal Affairs Service is deemed in the ambit of fairness, truth, and justice whatever results may divulge.”   

“I reiterated that an impartial investigation is on-going to determine if there were lapses in this series of police operations launched by our local police units accorded to the Revised Police Operations Procedures. Gen. Albayalde hit back at those calling for his resignation.  “Lahat naman pinagre-resign ng mga yan. Let me express this that in the name of deliquadeza, which is obviously not in their morale virtues, they should be the once who have long since resigned while enjoying the perks and privileges shouldered by the Filipino people,” Gen. Albayalde declared,” the PNP chief said.