By Ben Rosario
Imposing stiffer penalties were proposed as among the solutions to put an end to human rights abuses committed by government law enforcement agents.
On the other hand, the recruitment of more chaplains to offer spiritual and moral guidance to policemen is another solution against human rights abuses.
Human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares and indigenous people’s rights advocate Agnes Escudero raised these proposals as their respective antidote to abusive police force.
Colmenares and Escudero are among the eight senatorial candidates who showed up at the second installment of the ABS-CBN Senatorial Debates with Manila Bulletin as the network’s media partner.
To former Senator Mar Roxas and former Quezon Rep. Erin Tanada of Otso Diretso senatorial slate, body and dash board cameras may do the trick.
Colmenares said stiff penalties and new laws that would stop state-sponsored killings are among the effective antidotes to abusive police force.
Eight senatorial candidates who made good their promise to appear at the discussion of national issues aired various responses to Marissa Lazaro, whose son was killed following an alleged shootout with policemen.
In tears, Lazaro recounted that police have claimed that her 22-year-old son was involved in a robbery and had fired at them. However, during the investigation, she noted that her son had been handcuffed, indicating that he was already under police custody when shot.
Escudero sympathized with Lazaro but pointed out that policemen are also human who need spiritual and moral guidance.
“Kailangan ng kapulisan ng mga chaplain para magbigay ng moral spiritual na pagtatag sa kanilang pagkatao,” she said.
As his senatorial rivals took turns in condemning alleged extrajudicial killings committed by the police, independent senatorial bet Abner Afuang, a former Makati City policeman, protested the failure of human rights advocates to take cognizance of the killing of policemen.
“Mayroon infrastructure of impunity sa paglabag sa katarungan pantao sa gobyerno. Suportado ng gobyerno ang mga pulis na involved sa pagpatay,” said Colmenares.
The human rights activist stressed that human rights abuses can be fought before three areas –by passing a law punishing state-sponsored killing; court action and by protesting on the street.
Roxas, who served as secretary of interior and local government, said mandatory installation of body and dashboard cameras can be effective deterrents of police abuse.
“Naka-record kung ano talaga ang nangyari at hindi na na mauulit ang paglabag sa mga batas, he said.
Magdalo senatorial candidate Gary Alejano batted for reforms in the police recruitment procedure, saying that this should put an end to corruption.
Alejano said the creation of a strong Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service and firing abusive policemen, instead of transferring them to other assignments, are his recommendations.
Tanada backed Roxas’ proposal for the installation of cameras that would stand witness against abuses.
“Mahusay na training ng police officers, kung hindi ito gagawin tiyak na marami pa rin bad eggs sa pulisya,” said the former Quezon congressman.
For his part, federalism advocate Conrado: Ding Generoso said the draft federal constitution submitted by the 22-man Consultative Commission contain provisions that will guarantee that justice will be given to victims of human rights.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal noted that there has been no victim of human rights among the rich.