A police force that overreaches its authority and encroaches upon the rights of individuals and businesses fosters an environment of fear and distrust.
The Philippine National Police-Anti-Cybercrime Group, or PNP-ACG, seems predisposed to taking shortcuts, and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, fresh from a heart bypass, was livid about it Monday.
Remulla minced no words in slamming the PNP-ACG’s failure to coordinate with the Department of Justice before conducting raids on POGO or Philippine offshore gaming operator firms in Las Piñas City.
The DoJ chief’s frustration was palpable as he condemned the PNP-ACG’s approach. “Arresting people without cases. What, cases will be invented? The DoJ will not agree to that,” Remulla fumed. “They just raided… they just entered the premises, as if they were fishing.”
Remulla raised the important point that many cases have remained pending due to lack of evidence, in most cases because of sloppy police work. In the POGO raids, he said the cops did not cite specific acts or grounds for arresting the individuals.
According to Remulla, the booboo left the DoJ with no choice but to set free five Chinese nationals arrested during the raids for alleged involvement in human trafficking operations, pending reinvestigation.
Many similar drug cases had been thrown out either at the prosecutorial level or before the courts for the failure of arresting officers to observe protocol, including having members of the media and the local prosecutor’s office present when processing arrested individuals and the evidence seized from them.
The bungling of the Las Piñas raids raises questions about the competence and professionalism of the PNP-ACG.
Furthermore, the PNP-ACG’s recent proposal to join POGO raids only adds to the confusion surrounding their intentions and actions. In a press conference, PNP-ACG chief P/Brig. Gen. Sidney Hernia suggested that police officers be included in inspections of POGOs.
However, one cannot help but question the reason behind this request. Does the PNP-ACG truly believe that its presence would enhance the effectiveness of these inspections, or is it simply an attempt to exert control and create the impression that the Philippines is a police state?
The dangers of the latter scenario cannot be overstated. A police force that overreaches its authority and encroaches upon the rights of individuals and businesses fosters an environment of fear and distrust. We must be cautious not to allow our country to slide down a path where citizens are constantly under surveillance and their rights are infringed upon in the name of law enforcement.
Hernia’s proposal came on the heels of the PNP-ACG’s recent “rescue” of around 3,000 Filipino and foreign workers in raids on Las Piñas City POGO firms allegedly involved in human trafficking and other illegal activities. Make no mistake about it, all illegal POGOs should go and those behind them prosecuted.
Just the same, Hernia’s suggestion in the face of the dressing down the PNP has received from Secretary Remulla raises concerns about his unit’s approach and its potential ramifications for those involved in the POGO industry, especially those operating legally.
The controversy surrounding the PNP-ACG has naturally trained the spotlight on the whole PNP, which has been touting high crime solution efficiency — 81.78 percent in 2022. However, the real question is how many of these “solved crimes” have resulted in convictions.
If that’s too much to ask for, let’s dumb it down a bit: How many of the complaints filed by the PNP are ultimately adopted by prosecutors and filed in court? A high crime solution efficiency rate may provide a sense of accomplishment, but it does not necessarily guarantee justice or the successful prosecution of criminals.
The PNP’s claimed efficiency in solving crimes must be accompanied by a commitment to thorough investigations, the gathering of compelling evidence, and the successful prosecution of offenders. Without these elements, the high crime solution efficiency rate becomes a hollow metric.
In light of these stories, it becomes apparent that the PNP-ACG’s actions are cause for concern. Their failure to coordinate with the DoJ, their lack of proffered evidence, and their questionable proposals raise doubts about their commitment to serve and protect.
We must demand better from our law enforcement agencies. We deserve a police force that respects the rule of law, values evidence-based investigations, and prioritizes the protection of citizens’ rights.
Credit belongs to : tribune.net.ph