By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has expressed openness to the possibility of shortening the dismissal procedures for erring police officers as part of its internal cleansing program.
Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesperson, admitted that the disciplinary process for erring cops is “circuitous” but he maintained it is part of their reform program.
“We have so many disciplinary authorities and the process is circuitous,so it is still part and parcel of our reform program,” he stated. However, he added that there are specific units tasked to address these kinds of concerns.
“There are a lot of legislative initiatives, advocacies being undertaken by our reform office, iyong (the) Center for Police Strategic Management in charge of orchestrating all these reform initiatives of the PNP,” he noted.
Durana bared that he used to be a part of the said unit and since 2005, they have been dealing with concerns such as reforms on how to effectively and quickly give the punishment to erring cops.
“We have been doing that, not only addressing some infirmities in our disciplinary system but also in some other areas, and the legal policy and systemic dysfunction of the PNP,” he said.
In a study by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the national government (GOP) entitled Transforming the Philippine National Police into a More Capable, Effective and Credible Police Force in 2005, it was pointed out that a complaint against a member of the PNP is brought before a number of internal and external organizations including the Internal Affairs Service (IAS), Directorate for Intelligence (DI), Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), and the Chief of the PNP.
“Confusion and delay are two dysfunctional issues that accompany the existing system on police discipline,” the study said.
It was because of this dilemma that the PNP-DIDM crafted and released the PNP Pre-Charge Evaluation and Summary Hearing Guide in 2011 to familiarize the internal management of the national police force in disciplining rogue cops.
According to the guide, after a complaint was filed against a police officer, the PNP-IAS will have to immediately refer it to a chief investigator to reduce it to an affidavit and determine whether it has administrative jurisdiction over the respondent.
If no, the investigator will forward it to the concerned disciplinary authority but if yes, a three-day review will take place to evaluate the complaint and determine its validity.
Once validated, the chief investigator will assign an evaluator for the conduct of a pre-charge evaluation within three days. This is to determine the existence or absence of a probable cause of the case.
The evaluator will now have three days to submit to the chief investigator the results of the pre-charge evaluation. Another three days are allotted to the chief investigator to decide whether the case should be a) closed or dropped for lack of probable cause; b) referred to appropriate disciplinary authority for lack of jurisdiction; c) treated as a grievance; or d) recommended for summary hearing.
The decision will then be endorsed and approved to the head of IAS, and forwarded to the disciplinary authority like the Chief PNP in Camp Crame or the regional director in regional offices.
After the approval, the chief investigator will have three days to prepare two separate memoranda or letters addressed to the complainant and to the respondent to inform about the result of the review and the approval of the higher authorities.
He is also tasked to issue designation orders if a summary hearing is needed. A summary hearing is another tedious process where the assigned officer shall resolve the case 60 days at most.
If the result of the summary hearing is dismissal and it is forwarded to the police officer who can file a motion for reconsideration within 10 days. In 30 days, the PNP chief or any disciplinary authority will review the motion and give the final verdict.
Different news about police officers being involved in various illegal activities, primarily illegal drugs, prompted the PNP leadership to implement an intensified internal cleansing program. In fact, it is with this reason that the Counter Intelligence Task Force (CITF) was created in 2017 to run after police scalawags.
Recently, the PNP released a data from the IAS which showed that from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2018, a total of 3,275 personnel were charged in connection with the anti-illegal drug campaign alone.
From this, only 59 police officers were dismissed from service, 778 were exonerated while 2,438 cases were junked either due to lack of probable cause or other reasons.
Several hundred cases are still pending for decision despite the presentation of numerous evidences against the erring cops so the call to expedite the judicial process to dismiss them are growing louder.
Durana maintained that they “do not tolerate misfits and scalawags in our campaign against illegal drugs.”