COLUMN: Ba(d)long(on)

April 14-20, 2011

By Cha Monforte

There’s that legislative staffer in the Davao del Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan who’s evidently influence peddling. For whom? To his own boss. This legislative staffer obviously wanted to ingratiate to be under the full grace of his boss, although I know from sources that he’s always being scolded by his boss for making a lot of errors. One day when local paparazzis wanted to interview his boss this staffer blocked their way to the legislative room and told them his boss would no longer entertained them as this quarter was “scolded” some weeks ago over a news report and was then barred not to be back in his boss office ‘til eternity. Heyhey, who am I to insist it’s true ba(d)long(on)? And I’m not insisting to get again words from the horses’ mouth to deliver news without any consideration if it’s true ba(d)long(on)? There was no such scolding (I’m not his subordinate in the first place), only a gentleman’s scaling up of voice over clarificatory questions in a portion of a news I wrote based on my earlier interview with him. I know that your boss is a gentleman but just a babe in the SP and in politics and I understand such recoil of a neophyte politician who became a subject of a news in my long years in community journalism. Oh ba(d)long(on), if you only knew that there was that iltikol (Lt. Col.) in the mid 80s who suddenly barged in to our editorial office in company with his men in full battle gear and furiously demanded from us (I was then the editor of the defunct Northern Star, a weekly of late Nong Cesar Sotto Jr) to “reverse” the news that I had written about their human rights violations against poor Mawab farmers. We gave the armymen coffee, and we talked showing them the affidavits which were the basis of our news. In the next week, we published the military’s version based on that interview in a space and prominence equal to our earlier news about HR violations. Subsequently, we became friends with the iltikol to the point that we became his best guests in the 1988 fiesta of Compostela. That’s how the press works ba(d)long(on). We’re fair. If you want to ingratiate to your boss, don’t include the local paparazis who just want to get news from your boss, he being a public official. Don’t also make a fence, a barrier between your boss and the local media as it makes you to be not a good chief of staff (COS) to sir whom I have full respect. As a COS you’re expected to liason and build good rapport with the people for your boss and be a good PR man of your boss.
Welcome our new Davao del Norte provincial police director PSSupt. Edgardo Wycoco. It’s good to hear that the new PD is palaban against all crimes. May he succeed in stumping out what his predecessor had obviously failed to do. But truth to tell, PSSupt. Jose Volpane Pante is a good PD, only that during his tour of duty extrajudicial killings in the city and in the province continued. Maybe it’s because of the increased population and the inroads of urbanization that we have now also tend to increase the rate of incidents of crimes against persons. There’s that social conflicts in the milieu of many poor people, and the number of policemen is few. Nevertheless, when PD Pante left the province for a new assignment, we failed to send our pabaon to him- kalabasa.
There’s that need for himan rights-based policing. As we know, the Philippine National Police serves as one of the government instruments charged with enforcing the full protection of human rights. Existing international standards on human rights to which the Philippines is a State party are supposed to guide the police in practicing human rights principles as the highest embodiment of policing, The PNP is engaged in an effort of shifting into a new organizational paradigm to make human rights the centerpiece of all its actions as a catalyst for advancing the human rights agenda for police personnel. The PNP leadership has already issued a guideline that all police officers shall adopt the paradigm of human rights-based policing by being “champions” and “catalysts”, individually and collectively, to strengthen the faith and trust of the citizenry in their police officers as protectors of human rights.
Police officers are hence duty bound to observe human rights of suspects, persons under custodial investigation and detainees while carrying out their law enforcement functions such as arrest, investigation and detention or imprisonment. Human rights observance and proper handling while suspects and detainees temporarily stay in police station jails have remained to be daunting challenge to the Philippine National Police and to its police officers especially personnel who are most engaged in arrest and detention of suspects and detainees by nature of their assignments such as desk officers, jailers, police personnel in mobile patrol units and those doing follow-up intelligence operations.
Todate, the PNP has yet to institutionalize as it gears up to effect human rights-based policing whereby police officers would have to habitually incorporate into their arrest and detention functions the giving of information on the basic and relevant human rights of suspects and detainees from the moment of arrest up to the release or transfer to higher jails of suspects and detainees. The PNP though has yet to come up comprehensive standard operating procedures covering all relevant laws, rules and procedures relating human rights and proper handling of suspects, detainees and persons under custodial investigation.
Currently, what has been perceived to be practiced by among relevant police officers is the effecting of immediate arrest to a suspect without him being informed of his basic human rights such as the right to remain silent or the right to hire legal counsel of his choice, or he is locked up in jail to languish under often destitute conditions.
There are abundant laws, rules and procedures covering human rights of persons getting brush with laws and providing for the proper handling of detained persons in station jails, but these are scattered across and are not integrated or institutionalized into one operational police manual.
The PNP has visibly lacked a comprehensive manual on standard operating procedures in the handling of detainees and suspects. Police stations particularly police jails have also visibly lacked a section or focal point person who will champion for the observance of human rights of suspects and persons under custodial investigation including juvenile delinquents, women and their children detained or brought in police stations for various types of offenses and cases, and who will take charge for the proper handling of detainees and the maximizing of the use of information technology (IT) in police works and in developing the IT capability of police personnel at the precinct-level.
A serious stuff, huh?


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