PNP brushes off criticisms as groups call for review of issuance, service of warrants
Minimum health protocol violators are being profiled and issued with ticket at Quezon City Memorial Circle after they were nabbed during a one time big time operation of Quezon City Task Force Disiplina Task force, QCPD and DPOS on May 12, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

PNP brushes off criticisms as groups call for review of issuance, service of warrants

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - June 10, 2021 - 11:33am

MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the Philippine National Police rebuffed criticisms anew after local and international rights groups called on the Supreme Court to review how search warrants are issued and served.

The groups said the search warrants were being "weaponized" against activists.

In a statement sent to reporters Thursday, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar claimed that the police organization was "always mindful that cops adhere to the Police Operational Procedures when conducting operations."

He also played down the longstanding concerns of human rights violations, saying the PNP cannot give weight to all of them in the absence of "proof."

READ: PNP welcomes probe into arrest of activist but denies law is being weaponized

“There will always be accusations of police abuse in all manner of our operations but if we were to give weight to all these attributions of wrongdoing on our policemen, even without proof, we would no longer be able to effectively fulfill our mandate," Eleazar said. 

“While we acknowledge the concern of these groups, we would like to assure them that the PNP has not been remiss in ensuring that police operations are legitimately conducted.”

This came after 103 groups in a letter addressed to the Supreme Court and Department of Justice urged a review on the issuances of search and arrest warrants which they said were used by state forces to detain, harass, and kill activists.

The groups in their letter pointed to the "weaponization of search warrants" in what they said was the "alarming and ongoing pattern of criminalization and violence against human rights defenders in the Philippines."

They also pointed out the practice of police and military using the “nanlaban” (violent resistance) narrative to explain the deaths—a pattern that even the country's justice department has said violated the PNP's operational protocols on occasion. 

READ: PNP vows to verify 'nanlaban' cases, boot dirty cops

'Swift and decisive'

The PNP has long been criticized for what rights groups say is its culture of violence and impunity that allows cops to get away with cases of abuse. Police leadership continues to assert that these are isolated incidents and has rejected suggestions for systemic reforms.

In his statement, the national police chief said that investigations by the organization's Internal Affairs Service as well as the distribution of body cameras should keep police officers more accountable. 

“Our actions against policemen [who are] proven to have veered away from our sworn duty, are swift and decisive as we have zero tolerance for law breakers in our ranks," Eleazar said Thursday. 

“Trust that the PNP holds our accountability with the highest consideration and will continue to work within the bounds of the law,” he added.

Action was indeed swift in the case of a killer cop from Quezon City who murdered a 52-year-old, with the PNP publishing a video of Eleazar berating Police MSgt. Hensie Zinampan. Aside from the scolding, Zinampan also faces criminal and administrative complaints.

From Interaksyon: Another public humiliation tactic: Eleazar draws ire over confrontation video

But outside of high-profile cases, PNP leadership has dodged criticisms on instances of abuse and has stood by its arrests of progressives. 

Eleazar in earlier statements implied that the targeting of activists and government critics in many of its operations was a coincidence. 

— with a report from Kristine Joy Patag 

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