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Recto urges gov't to rush creation of 'Google-like' database for arrest warrants

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Recto urges gov't to rush creation of 'Google-like' database for arrest warrants
Undated photo shows Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, File

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker called on government agencies to fasttrack the creation of a “Google search-like” justice system database for fast verification of arrest warrants.

In a statement Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said an online database would spare namesake of fugitives from being denied security clearances, held at ports or harassed by public officers.

He made the call after two of the arrested jeepney drivers protesting the loss of their livelihood were only released Tuesday afternoon after court records showed pending cases against 72-year-old Elmer Cordero and 43-year-old Wilson Ramilla. Their four colleagues walked free a day earlier.

Recto said an operational "online database" of individuals with arrest warrants would have led to the instant verification of the pending warrants against Cordero and Ramilla.

“If it was not a high profile case, the verification might have taken longer. By today’s standards, it was something that proceeded at warp speed,” Recto said in a mix of English and Filipino.

‘Organized chaos’

The senator also stressed that it is a “hassle” for thousands of Filipinos who share similar names with those in trouble with the law.

“In this land of popular surnames like Reyes, Cruz, Rosario and Santos, it is difficult to get police or NBI clearance,” Recto said, adding that the dispersed databases do not have complete details of persons with outstanding warrants are aggravating the problem.

He stressed the “organized chaos” will only end if the National Justice Information System becomes operational. NJIS—led by the Department of Justice and the Department of Information and Communications Technology—is the “web that will facilitate data exchange among agencies.”

“The failure to interconnect and digitize the antiquated record system have led to jail congestion, a police force clueless on the identity of wanted persons and border control that inconveniences many innocents,” Recto said.

“This will eradicate the use of guesses, discretion and overreach in tagging persons in trouble with the law,” he added.

Piston 6

Last week, police arrested six jeepney drivers after a “Balik Pasada” protest led by transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston).

Four of them were released Monday after posting bail on the disobedience charge for they allegedly resisted police dispersing their demonstration along EDSA. But Cordero and Ramilla remained behind bars until Tuesday.

Cordero was released after posting P10,000 bail in a 2002 estafa case. Ramilla was also released after his claims that he served his sentence on plea bargain in a carnapping case and a second count was provisionally dismissed were certified.

On June 1, Metro Manila shifted to more relaxed general community quarantine but the government has yet to allow jeepneys to operate. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from The STAR/Marc Jayson Cayabyab

RALPH RECTO
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