I FULLY agree with PNP chief, General Jun Azurin when he reminded anew his men that ‘killing is not the best solution in deterring crime’ in the country. Indeed, the best way to address criminality is to ensure that there will always be a certainty of punishment for all lawbreakers.
And unless confronted by ‘armed and defiant’ criminals who, as we Filipinos will always say ‘hindi pahuhuli ng buhay,’ our policemen should be out there with a mission to capture criminals alive with the end in view of fully prosecuting them in court to secure a conviction.
However, our policemen performing their sworn duties round-the-clock must always be ready to defend themselves and the lives of others once needed. This is what they have to keep in their minds amid the presence of ruthless criminals and other lawless elements who are always ready to kill policemen at any given opportunity.
Just look at the case of Lieutenant Colonel Reynaldo Samson, the chief of police of the Ampatuan Municipal Police Station in Maguindanao who, along with his driver/bodyguard, was killed by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday morning.
Three other subordinates of Samson were wounded as their vehicle were fired upon by the suspects who obviously were cohorts of a wanted criminal about to be arrested by the Ampatuan policemen. Lt. Col. Samson and his men deserve all the praises they can get. May they get the justice they richly deserve.
I learned that Gen. Azurin issued the strong reminder anew last week as he called on his field commanders to ensure that their men remain visible in areas where crimes are likely to happen and that they should be always around to help boost the morale of their men and at the same time give them the confidence they need to do a great job 24/7.
Speaking to his men during the National Heroes Day celebration on Monday, the top cop said that the occasion coincides with the reaffirmation of their commitment to the peace and security Filipino heroes fought and died for.
“With this commitment, we remain on the battlefield against crime, illegal drugs, corruption, and terrorism even as we continue our tireless pursuit of cleansing our backyard of members unfit to be called the nation’s protectors and public servants,” Gen. Azurin said.
The top cop also underscored the need for the police force to ensure that all its work will be anchored on the rule of law and that it should be always enforced without fear or favor.
“Let us always ensure that the judicious use of authority shall be grounded on the respect for human dignity, transparency, integrity, accountability, rule of law, and democratic governance. This level of commitment and dedication to your service is instrumental in our tireless pursuit of regaining the trust and confidence of the Filipino people,” he said.
The PNP chief called on his men to be guided by their peace and security framework dubbed MKK=K or Malasakit, Kaayusan, Kapayaaan tungo sa Kaunlaran and the KASIMBAYANAN program or Kapulisan, Simbahan at Pamayanan as they work in unison to realize the government’s aspiration of a much safer, peaceful, more progressive and stronger equitable society.
“Today, we gather as one family to revisit a significant milestone of our nation’s rich history as we pay tribute to the heroes of the past for their patriotic fervor and love of country, as well as the courage and sacrifices of countless and nameless Filipinos in our struggles for liberty and freedom,” he said.
“As we celebrate this auspicious day, we do not only commemorate the glorious past but we also pay respect, with the highest esteem, to our many modern-day heroes – our frontliners who selflessly serve the community during this pandemic, our police officers who lost their lives in the war against illegal drugs and to all of us who have experienced various difficulties and surmounting challenges brought about by COVID-19,” he added.
Gen. Azurin paid tribute to the countless police personnel who have been killed or maimed in the performance of duty as well as the others who continue to be a hero to others, the latest of them Lt. Col. Samson and one of his men.
“Over the years, the police service has played a crucial role in shaping the nation’s history, providing colorful chapters of gallantry and heroism that now serve to inspire the present generation of policemen and policewomen, and this is because of the support we gained from our President and the stakeholders,” he said.
“Our uniformed members, like our forebears, continue to lay their lives on the line of duty as they serve and protect the community with the same gallantry, sacrifice, and heroism.
Moments like this serve as a constant reminder that police work also comes with inevitable loss and grief which is part of our duly sworn profession.,” he explained.
“But lest we forget, there is no higher honor, nor nobler act than to die for the cause of our country and our people,” he said in referring to the huge number of policemen who have died while fighting drugs, criminality, terror and insurgency in the country.
Gen. Azurin said that together, they have won countless victories against crime and lawlessness and learned lessons well from setbacks and defeats as he affirmed their commitment to the peace and security that Filipino heroes fought and died for.
“Our vigor has never wavered even in the midst of troubles caused by rogue cops who tarnish the image of the police and the critics who undermine the many victories and achievements of our organization. We remain strong and determined as we continue to march in cadence with the President and the Filipino people who only desire peace and stability in the country,” he said.
DE LIMA VISITORS MUST FOLLOW COURT RULES
I’m saying this in the wake of the successive lambasting received by the PNP from the camp of jailed ex-Senator Leila de Lima amid the failure of her visitors, foreigners included to see her in her detention cell.
I also expect more complaints from the former lawmaker’s camp in the event her guests are again barred from entering the maximum-security PNP Custodial Center for lack of court order.
However, the public must be informed that the PNP Headquarters Support Service (PNP-HSS) is very strict when it comes to implementing visitation rights on de Lima and other Persons Under PNP as they aim to protect everybody under the new normal and ensure that PNP and court-imposed jail regulations are strictly followed.
“We don’t deprive our PUPC of their constitutional right to be granted with the opportunity to be visited but it should be within the bounds of PNP Memorandum Circular 2018-027,” said PNP-HSS director, Colonel Mark Pespes amid the brouhaha triggered by their decision to bar some guests from seeing de Lima on her birthday last August 27.
As clearly explained by the official, all PUPCs are bound by the strict rules on visitation stipulated under a PNP directive. Paragraph 6 of the said memorandum states that “Visits to PUPC by any person may be allowed only upon their submission of a written request at least ten (10) working days prior to the intended date of visit subject to the approval of the Chief, PNP for foreign requests or the Regional Director for local requests.”
Col. Pespes said that based on records, the PNP Custodial Center received the letter requesting to allow other visitors on de Lima’s birthday on the evening of August 22—just four days shy of the planned visit on August 27.
“The Senator is aware that her request fell short of the required number of days stated in the memo but still the PNP Headquarters and Support Service made earnest efforts to process the request. However, hindi talaga naihabol ang approval,” he said.
Maintaining that they treat all PUPCs equally with no exemption to the rule, the Camp Crame commander said that the PNP through the Custodial Service Unit, communicated to the ex-senator informally in the evening of August 26 and through a letter on August 27, 2022 that said request was immediately processed but did not reach approval.
“Any request for visitation is evaluated thoroughly and will usually take a process which needs ample time before it finally gets approved if ever no complications are observed,” Pespes said.
He however said that immediate family relatives and family members of the former lawmaker were allowed to see her during her birthday celebration. Col. Pespes issued the statement in the aftermath of the 2nd ‘protest’ made by supporters of de Lima regarding their failure to visit her.
Two Fridays ago, a Muntinlupa City court allowed a group of American lawmakers to visit de Lima at the maximum security PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, subject to a number of “limitations”, including no news coverage, be it mainstream or social media.
Judge Romeo S. Buenaventura granted the instant motion filed by the camp of de Lima although he said the visit would be conducted according to visitation guidelines under PNP Memorandum Circular No. 2018-027. He also so ruled that the accused must refrain from making comments or speeches that directly or indirectly have reference to any matter pending before the court.
Prior to that, the PNP-HSS barred the American delegation from entering the prison facility without a court order. The PNP Memorandum Circular No. 2018-027 states that “a foreigner national who wishes to visit a PUPC (Person under Protective Custody) shall submit a letter of intent to the Chief, PNP at least two weeks in advance. The letter of intent must be endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA] upon note Verbale from the concerned Embassy.”
It also says that “the request shall include the purpose, itinerary, basic biographical information and a cop of valid IDs/passport (colored copy).” The PNP leadership said that apart from exercising caution in the wake of the continuing threats posed by the COVID-19 virus, they must stick with existing government rules on a prison visit.
The PNP is making the public aware of their strict jail visitation rules to prevent more controversies that may arise in the event visitors of PUPCs like de Lima are barred from entering the jail facility inside Camp Crame again for lack of court order and permission from the PNP leadership.
The PNP-HSS also said that based on Camp Crame Rules and Regulations, Manual of Operations 2021, “interview of a detainee whose case/s is/are already in court—When the case/s of a detainee is/are already filed in court, all interviews must have prior approval by the court and done in the manner prescribed therein.”