Convictions new gauge of PNP skills
By Marlon Ramos, Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Convictions in court—not the mere arrest of suspects—will be the Aquino administration’s yardstick of police efficiency in its campaign against extrajudicial killings.
Presiding over his first command conference with the Philippine National Police, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo Wednesday spelled out his action plan as head of the department which has supervisory powers over the 130,000-strong police force.
With President Benigno Aquino III airing concern over the unabated killings, “there should be a difference [between] the old dimension and the new dimension,” he told reporters after the hour-long closed-door conference at Camp Crame.
Robredo, a former mayor of Naga City, observed that the police usually regarded criminal cases, such as extrajudicial killings, as solved after the filing of cases against the suspects before the courts.
Now, it is the conviction of those charged, and not mere arrests or cases filed, that should serve as “the gauge for the solution of the killings of media people and activists,” Robredo said.
“That will be our yardstick in measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of our police force,” he said in Filipino.
The successful prosecution of those charged with the killings should be ensured before the cases could be considered solved, he stressed.
Robredo set targets for the PNP as President Aquino promised to deliver swift justice to the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings that took place immediately before and after he was sworn into office on June 30.
“It will happen relatively soon,” the President said after hosting dinner for the Malacañang Press Corps on Tuesday night. He did not go into details, saying he preferred not to discuss matters in public until specific points had been ironed out.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Aquino met with government officials assigned to go after the killers and discussed such matters as the “methodology” required to end the murders.
“I’m interested in results,” he said. “I want correct results, not manufactured results.”
Asked how he intended to address the climate of impunity that had allowed the killings to continue, Mr. Aquino merely said: “We will solve these current [cases].”
In a report released in 2007, United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston said the climate of impunity was one of the reasons behind the prevalence of extrajudicial killings under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“No one has been convicted in the cases involving leftist activists, and only six cases involving journalists have resulted in convictions,” Alston said in the report.
“The priorities of the criminal justice system … had increasingly focused on prosecuting civil society leaders rather than their killers,” he said.
A recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, Robredo lauded PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa for adopting the Integrated Transformation Program and the Performance Governance System (PGS) to effect concrete organizational changes in the police force.
“I’m glad that there is recognition for a need for transformation,” he said, adding that he implemented the same PGS scheme when he was the mayor of Naga.
“The real challenge is how you operationalize the PGS from that document to the police element,” he said.
Citing Mr. Aquino’s campaign for meaningful change, Robredo said there must be evident improvement in the image of policemen.
“We need to show there are changes because we have promised that [to our people] starting in July, and there should be clear manifestations of these changes,” Robredo said.
“[The change may be] symbolic or maybe even cosmetic. [It should show] that there is change going on not only in Camp Crame, but also in the last police station down the line,” he said.
He underscored the importance of “character transformation” in all PNP personnel, saying even recent surveys showed that what the police needed was a change in values.
He added that if policemen espoused this kind of transformation, the public would view them with more respect.
Once considered one of the most corrupt state agencies, the PNP has steadily earned positive feedback from the public since 2008.
A survey commissioned by the PNP Program Management Office last month showed that nearly seven of 10 Filipinos were satisfied with the police force’s performance in security operations.
According to Robredo, the same policy on transformation can be used in dealing with problems concerning mulcting policemen and illegal gambling.
“I guess we all agree that the program should be a calibrated and proportionate response, depending on the gravity of the problem,” he said.