February 9, 2023

GETTING POLICE REFORM EFFORTS BACK ON TRACK

Recent issues involving dispensation of justice and due process have raised questions on what has come out in the implementation of the long-term agenda for the transformation and upholding of the rule of law by the Philippine National Police and how its members are coping with the damaging outcomes of their own doing while carrying out their mandate to serve and protect.
Many believe PNP Chief Debold Sinas made a mockery of the due process when he announced the death of flight attendant Christine Dacera on New Year’s Day is a rape-slay case without solid evidence.He claimed the case is solved in record time with the arrest and filing of charges against three suspects,who were later ordered released by the court for lack of prima facie evidence of their involvement in the alleged “crime,” ruling that the case calls for further investigation.
In making such hasty conclusions despite lacking a firm grasp of the situation possible only if a thorough inquiry was conducted, the chief PNP has only showed the entire force under his command, and the citizens they are bound to serve and protect, how to fail to perform a basic police duty – determining whether or not a crime has been committed.
Efficiently getting to the real cause of the victim’s death – which still cannot be concluded to have resulted from a crime – was supposedly a chance for the beleaguered institution to regain public trust, following recent cases of cops involved in crimes and misconduct.
It could have showed an improved professionalism and efficiency among our police officers, considering the noble intentions of the PNP Patrol Plan 2030, which serves as the agency’s roadmap in transforming to a more capable, effective, and credible organization after it was tagged by national perception as one the most corrupt government agencies in the country in 2003.
Among the program’s key areas is to “streamline institutional mechanisms and procedures in order to promote speedy access to justice and legal protection; ensure police neutrality and non-discrimination; and foster respect for human rights and gender neutrality.”
Here at the “home of the most disciplined cops,” the Police Regional Office-Cordillera is making headway in covering the 12 key areas of the roadmap. While some of its personnel have been linked to crimes, one of which recently resulted in the disbanding of the regional drug enforcement unit, the public is counting on their assurance of having an impartial investigation.
Cordillera cops have been proving their worth since Day One of the Covid-19 pandemic, by serving in the frontlines and enforcing prevention measures, while at the same time being deployed to their regular peace and order duties, doing civic and humanitarian missions during typhoons and emergencies, and helping in the conduct of distance learning.
The local cops have been doing their best to be at our service anywhere their assistance is needed, with some doing beyond their mandate, such as sharing their salary to build houses for homeless residents and helping an honest Benguet farmer who opted to return lost and found money when he needed it the most.
Although the Cordillera’s own is far from being perfect, we choose to read sincerity in between such deeds, and not just to earn some points to report on their accomplishment portfolios.
However, the recent blunder at the agency’s top level is dragging the organization further down. The action of the PNP chief, instead of saving a tarnished image, is derailing efforts of different police commands to uplift the entire agency, particularly in terms of institutional capabilities by improving administrative and operational coherence and efficiency and strengthening the police stations to enhance their service and bring the police closer to the community.
With calls to probe on how the PNP handled the Dacera case at the House of Representatives, our call is for the police force to be able to focus on their job and get back on track in spite of the blows caused by its wayward members and an unsteady leadership. The reforms the agency is aiming will not be easy to achieve, but for us, having a peace officer who knows his job and carries it out well is already a big step to regaining public trust and confidence.