Photo taken April 30 shows Police General Archie Gamboa delivering a public address.
Screengrab / Philippine National Police on Facebook
PNP waiting for formal complaints of sexual abuse by cops at quarantine checkpoints
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - May 25, 2020 - 10:37am

MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the national police Monday urged victims of sexual abuse at the hands of police officers to come forward and file cases against them. 

This comes in the wake of a report by Rappler of incidents of quarantine checkpoint officers exploiting sex workers passing through. 

Speaking in an interview with ANC, Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, PNP chief, said that moving a case forward would be difficult without statements from the victim, but that the PNP would do its best to ensure the victim's confidentiality in administrative proceedings. 

The PNP has, since June 2019, had an Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group "to conduct intelligence build-up and law enforcement operations against PNP personnel who are involved in any illegal activities such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, financial crimes, cybercrime, malversation, graft and corrupt practices, security violations, and others."

The police Internal Affairs Service also has the power to "conduct inspection and audit of PNP personnel and units" of its own accord, according to its website and its charter.

READ: Gamboa urges victims of sexual abuse by cops to file case against perpetrators

"In any case that we want to pursue, there must be available witnesses. But in these cases, it’s a crime that’s done privately between the accused and the victim. And if the victim really doesn't come out, then unless we find very good circumstantial evidence, then that’s the only time we can pursue. Nevertheless we will look into it," Gamboa said in Filipino.

According to Rappler's report, women and men have been forced to offer sex to cops just to pass through quarantine checkpoints. 

Gamboa said that such an offense is punishable by at least 40 years in prison as well as dismissal from the servoce.

He also encouraged victims to seek help from the national police's Women and Children Protection Center.

RELATED: 8 raped daily during quarantine – PNP

In a separate interview with dwIZ, Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said the PNP has yet to receive a formal sexual abuse complaint against a police officer.

"This is what I can promise them: we will be confidential in terms of administrative, but when it comes to court, I cannot totally promise that she won't have to be present in court because it might be vital for the prosecution of the case. We'll look at our options," Gamboa said.

Women's rights advocates have asked the national government to ensure that women's health is still firmly in its priorities amid the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

In an earlier statement, Gamboa said that the national police does not tolerate abuse against women and “takes strong exception to the sweeping allegation of sexual abuse of women by police frontliners.”

“I strongly urge those unnamed sources to immediately report to the PNP and to file charges against suspected wrongdoers,” he added. — with reports from Kristine Joy Patag

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE POLICE GEN. ARCHIE GAMBOA SEXUAL ABUSE
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