Senate to probe alleged abuse by cops

Posted at 02/12/14 6:14 PM

MANILA -- The Senate, via the Justice and Human Rights Committee, is set to investigate the alleged rights violations committed by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies.

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, the committee's chairperson, said recent reports of alleged abuses by police authorities, such as violations of the rights of people against unreasonable searches and seizures, arbitrary arrests, and illegal detention prompted them to initiate the probe.

Pimentel noted that a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage taken from Dasmariñas Village in Makati City last year showed three security guards being forcibly taken by the police after what looked like an altercation between the two sides.

The security guards were then brought to the Makati police headquarters where they stayed for about four hours, allegedly for "clarification and custodial inquiry," he said.

The senator was pertaining to the November incident involving Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay whose convoy of vehicles was not allowed to pass through a restricted gate of the posh subdivision in upscale Makati.

According to Pimentel, it was a serious breach of the rights of the guards to invite them for questioning.

He pointed out the 1987 Constitution ordains the protection and full guarantee of human rights while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person."

He added that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that no "one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law."

Pimentel said the Congress needs to find out the extent of this "objectionable" practice being used by police authorities and law enforcement agencies, and how this can be stopped.

He said that an inquiry into the Dasmariñas Village incident is needed because the police might have committed a felony under the Revised Penal Code for making unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, and grave coercion, among others.

"This unfortunate incident highlights the need for Congress as well as the leadership of our law enforcement agencies to review the standard operating procedure on effecting arrests, particularly warrantless arrests, by law enforcement agents," he said.

He also pointed out that is is the duty of Congress to uphold the basic human rights of every Filipino and to ensure that no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law.