By Aaron Recuenco
From now on, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will no longer be presenting arrested crime suspects in media conferences in compliance with an old memorandum prohibiting it due to human rights concerns.
The decision of the PNP leadership is a complete turnaround from the practice that was revived two years ago wherein arrested suspects would be lined up for video and photo opportunities of the media.
Journalists were informed of the decision when they inquired as to why the arrested erring policemen and other arrested civilians were not presented for today’s regular press conference.
Yesterday journalists covering Camp Crame were notified that Albayalde would lead the presentation of scalawag policemen who were arrested by the Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF) and operatives of the Quezon Provincial Police Office in separate operations.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde cited an old memorandum issued in 2008 which reiterates that presentation of arrested suspects should not be done because it would violate the suspects’ Constitutional right of presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a court of law.
“Yes, there’s an old memorandum regarding that,” Albayalde told the Manila Bulletin when asked if the PNP will no longer be presenting arrested suspects.
“We just want to (implement) the policy that no suspects would be paraded,” he added.
Last week, Albayalde led the presentation of Bulacan policemen who were arrested for extortion and the live-in partner of Ozamiz City councilor Ricardo ‘Ardot’ Parojinog.
During the press briefing, Albayalde said the move to present erring policemen is for the PNP to be fair since it presented crime suspects in the past.
“The question is why was there no outcry when we would present common criminal to the media? We treat everybody equal, that’s our policy, whether you are in uniform, politician, rich or poor we treat everybody equal here,” Albayalde said in last week’s press briefing.
“It’s not a shame campaign, it’s not for anything else. We just want to be fair to the public, the Filipino people. Hindi porke pulis ay tinatago natin,” he added.
In the past, top police and other government officials would present crime suspects to the media. In some cases, some policemen would allow the confrontation of the suspects and victims.
But during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the PNP leadership has come up with a memorandum prohibiting suspect’s media presentation based on the discussion with officials of the Commission on Human Rights.
Sources said it was Senior Supt. Benigno Durana, the new PNP spokesman, who convinced the top police leadership to do away with the practice as it puts the PNP in bad light.
“It is part of the due process,” said Durana when asked about it after the press briefing.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1988, Durana is considered as a thinker and is well-educated official of the PNP.
Among his academic credentials are a degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Peace and Peace and Security Administration from Bicol University and Master in Public Administration at the University of the Philippines.
He is also a graduate of Edward S. Mason Program on Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School for mid‐career Master in Public Administration in 2013.
Human rights issues
The PNP has been the subject of intense criticisms over allegations of rampant violation of human rights that comes with the campaign against illegal drugs that started in 2016.
The allegations include extrajudicial killings allegedly under the guise of nanlaban (drug suspects would engage policemen in firefight) claim during police operations.
The PNP however denied the allegations.