Ban on presenting suspects to media a 'window-dressing' if PNP won't end other abuses, HRW says
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the prohibition is contained in a memorandum written by former PNP chief Jesus Verzosa, which ordered regional and provincial commanders to refrain from presenting arrested suspects in a “firing squad” manner before newsmen.
The STAR/Boy Santos
Ban on presenting suspects to media a 'window-dressing' if PNP won't end other abuses, HRW says
Audrey Morallo ( - June 15, 2018 - 10:34am

MANILA, Philippines — Ending the practice of presenting suspects before the media will be viewed as "cynical, self-serving window-dressing" if the Philippine National Police will not end abuses attending the government's war on drugs, an international human rights watchdog said.

Early this week, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said that the presentation of arrested suspects would not be allowed anymore as this was a violation of their constitutional rights to due process and presumption of innocence.

Albayalde said that the prohibition of the practice was contained in the National Police Commission Memorandum Circular 2007-01.

According to the Human Rights Watch, a New York-based watchdog, Albayalde should stop the practice of police officers of gunning down suspects supposedly because they offered violent resistance if he was really serious in making the police force an organization that would observe human rights.

"The true measure of Albayalde’s avowals of due process and respect for human rights is to end the abuses by his personnel and hold them to account for their 'drug war' crimes," the group said in a statement.

"Otherwise, ending “perp walks” will just be viewed as cynical, self-serving window-dressing," it added.

It said that based on its research and those of other groups, police officers routinely executed suspects during anti-drug operations and planted evidence such as drugs and weapons on their bodies.

The Commission on Human Rights lauded the move by the PNP, saying that this was in consonance with human rights standards especially on due process and presumption of innocence.

"The Commission on Human Rights welcomes the directive of the PNP Chief Albayalde not to present persons deprived of liberty to the media which conforms with a CHR advisory issued in the past," the CHR said in a statement.

The order not to present suspects to the media was first issued by then PNP chief Jesus Verzosa who told his regional and provincial commanders to refrain from the practice.

Versoza said that his order was out of respect for the opinion of the CHR that parading suspects before the media violated their basic human rights.

"PNP personnel found in violation of the prohibition shall be charged administratively for less grave neglect of duty and shall be charged with Republic 9745 (The Anti-Torture Law)," the memorandum stated.

Under Albayalde's predecessor, Ronald dela Rosa, the practice became a major staple as part of the government's war on drugs.

Since its launch in 2016, the government's war on drugs has killed thousands of mostly urban poor Filipinos.

Many of those killed supposedly offered violent resistance to arresting police officers, although family members of victims contested this account.

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