House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep..Carlos Isagani Zarate on Tuesday, Sept. 7 chided the Philippine National Police for withdrawing its policy for mandatory inclusion in inquest proceedings of police personnel involved in killings during anti-crime operations.
Zarate said PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar had admitted that this policy is no longer being carried out. It is believed that subjecting policemen involved in deaths during official operations was first observed as a standard operating procedure (SOP) during the administration of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
"Scrapping this anti-abuse policy of inquest proceedings against suspected killer cops is truly absurd, unwarranted and even irregular. This would only further embolden police brutality, more killings and worsen the current state of impunity in the country," said the progressive solon.
Zarate recalled that during the 2020 DILG budget deliberations, the police agency disclosed that out of the 5793 cases of suspects killed during police operations, only 253 police officers and members have been presented under inquest investigation.
He pointed out that this is “contrary to the mandatory rule” that police operatives involved in anti-crime campaign, particularly anti-drug operations” have to be subjected to mandatory inquest investigation.
"This is outrageous! We already raised this rampant failure to observe its own procedures during the budget deliberation in 2019 and even last year; the PNP committed to rectify and improve its own accountability mechanism,” said Zarate.
"And, how indeed, did they fix their own failure to follow their own rules? By cockily eliminating their own anti-impunity policy!" he stated.
The practice of subjecting police officers involved in shootouts where a suspect or bystanders are killed has been observed by the police even during the time of the Marcos administration that has criticized by many as “dictatorial”.
Then, the inclusion of police officers in the inquest proceedings was considered part of SOP if police operations result in deaths. Zarate said the inquest procedure will establish whether there is prima facie findings or none that the persons killed actually fought back ("nanlaban").
"The "nanlaban" narrative is a sham and this may be the primary reason why the rule was scrapped. This is clearly anomalous and even a prima facie evidence of cover-up to hide violations of human rights,"he said.
"This much is contained in Justice Sec.Menardo Guevarra's report to the UNHRC, where he stated that the PNP is not following its own procedure. Again, the PNP admitted this fact during the budget deliberation last year,"he added.
General, your policy is broken, fix it; not crush it and throw in the garbage of impunity," Zarate said.
"The PNP should reinstate this rule and we demand that all of PNP personnel involved in killings should be subjected immediately to inquest proceedings” stated the opposition leader.