Palace defends PNP data gathering

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Palace defends PNP data gathering
Authorities screen motorists passing through a checkpoint near the border of Marikina and Antipolo on Friday morning, Aug. 6, 2021.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos, file

MANILA, Philippines — “Active police community operations” are not being used for politics, Malacañang said yesterday, after Sen. Panfilo Lacson expressed alarm over the supposed data-gathering being done in several barangays.

Lacson, a former police chief, earlier said the Philippine National Police (PNP) was conducting “census” in some areas using the funds of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Lacson, who has announced that he is running for president next year, suspects that the personal information gathered from residents will be used for the elections.

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar denied that the police are involved in the census and that “convenors” of some groups are the ones gathering information.

Eleazar said the activity has to be stopped if allegations that the police are taking part in the so-called census are true.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque defended the conduct of what he called “active police community operations,” saying they were implemented even when Lacson was police chief.

He said such activity is necessary in the fight against terrorists, illegal drugs and other threats.

“First, it’s not for politics. It’s not for political purposes. It’s what we call active police community operations. They have been implemented for a long time. In fact, in Japan, that’s the cornerstone in implementing peace and order,” Roque said during a press briefing.

“It is important because right now, our fight is not just against terrorists who are rebelling against the government but also against drug interests is intense,” he added.

Citing Eleazar’s previous statement, Roque said the activities are being done “in the spirit of volunteerism.”

“Nobody is forced (to provide information) and all information will only be used to boost the capability of the police to respond to threats to our security,” he said.

Last Tuesday, Lacson said he received information that the data-gathering activities are still ongoing despite the PNP’s denial.

“Being their former chief, I cannot allow the PNP to engage in partisan politics and be ‘bastardized,’ worse using public funds,” Lacson said in a statement.


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