POLICEMEN are training more lawyers and prosecutors to handle guns and know how to fire back if necessary and at the same time making it much easier for them to have their firearm licenses and permits-to-carry while understanding threats on their lives and security and how to deal with them appropriately.
These are among the salient points of a renewed commitment between top officials of the Philippine National Police and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as they met recently to strongly collaborate with each other in their own quest for justice amid recent issues affecting operations of the police force as well as the killing of judges and prosecutors in the country.
In a joint statement, the PNP represented by its Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar and the IBP headed by lawyer Domingo Egon Q. Cayosa expressed their desire to work hand-in-hand to address the number of cases surrounding the deaths of judges, prosecutors and member of the legal profession over the past several years.
“The PNP leadership does not sanction or tolerate the use of unnecessary/unreasonable force; illegal/questionable methods, or abuse of authority in pursuing its mandate to enforce the law and maintain peace and order; It shall hold accountable and discipline any police officer or employee who acts in violation of the Constitution, law, or regulations”, the joint statement said.
The IBP said it also ‘”believes that Justice Bilis is a key deterrent to criminality and will continue to encourage and enable its members to help move the wheels of justice in our country much faster”.
The officials added their resolve to fully collaborate with each other within the parameters of the Lawyer Security and Justice Memorandum of Agreement that the two institutions signed in March 2020.
The two groups agreed to the need to fully and promptly investigate lawyer’s killings and see to it that the perpetrators will be identified, hunted, prosecuted and penalized.
The PNP and the IBP leaderships also mentioned that “closer coordination between IBP and law enforcers and investigators resulted in faster resolution of the more recent killings of Atty. Eric Jay Magcamit in Palawan and Atty. Joey Luis Wee in Cebu City.”
Lt. Gen. Eleazar and Cayosa, along with their respective officials, reaffirmed the continuing periodic joint review of the existing Memorandum of Agreement between the PNP and IBP.
Cayosa reiterated the assurance of the IBP to provide legal assistance, through its legal aid program, to qualified police officers who are unjustly harassed for doing their job and who do not have access to a competent lawyer.
Eleazar informed Cayosa that the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office is conducting its own review of the PNP’s compliance with human rights standards in police operations because the PNP remains keenly responsive to the requirement of respect for human rights in law enforcement.
“We have sought to strengthen our partnership with IBP to develop greater confidence among police personnel and officers of the court,” Eleazar said.
The IBP also reaffirmed its commitment to motivate police officers and lawyers to work together in strengthening “communication lines” as officers of the court, ensure the prompt resolution and disposition of criminal cases, and advocate for laws and reforms that will help pursue the ends of justice.
Cayosa assured Eleazar of the commitment of IBP to help improve the legal knowledge and skills of police officers and inculcate in them adherence to the rule of law and respect for basic rights through lectures, seminars, workshops and other educational training programs.
Eleazar, on the other hand, expressed the commitment of the PNP to provide timely assistance to lawyers, prosecutors, and judges in distress or danger and extend appropriate security and protection in cases of threat or hazard in the performance of their duties and functions.
The PNP, he said will also help enhance the knowledge and skills of lawyers in security, personal defense, firearms proficiency and discipline, and allow use of PNP facilities for such training,
Eleazar said the PNP leadership has also committed to assist and facilitate the processing of application for gun license and permit to carry firearms outside residence of qualified applicants in the legal profession.
The PNP also reiterated its commitment to expedite investigation and give preferential attention to incidents and cases of violence against lawyers, prosecutors, and magistrates to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable and that justice is swiftly served.
Both parties agreed to encourage similar strong partnership in local IBP Chapters within the jurisdiction of PNP Regional and Provincial Police Offices nationwide.
The joint statement concluded that “the PNP and IBP shall nurture a principled and proactive partnership to end impunity and seek peace and justice for all.”
Eleazar, upon consultation with PNP Chief, General Debold M. Sinas ordered the relief of Calbayog City police intelligence chief, Lieutenant Fernando Calabria Jr. amid the latter’s controversial letter-request to the local court to identify lawyers representing suspected New People’s Army personalities.
He added that Sinas and the rest of the PNP leadership does not agree with the manner and style of intelligence-gathering by the concerned police officer and have not and will not issue any directive nor tolerate such unprofessional method.
Calabria was replaced by Major Ruel Buriat following a recommendation from Police Regional Office 8 director, Brigadier Gen. Ronaldo F. de Jesus.
“Based on the initial result of the investigation, what PLt Calabria did was part of his effort to come up with a comprehensive report on the communist insurgency situation in his area of responsibility, which is Calbayog City. The pressure of crafting a detailed report apparently took a toll on him and eventually prompted him to commit a serious breach of policy,” he said.
“While we in the PNP remain steadfast in the campaign against communist insurgency, we will not condone any irresponsible and unprofessional act of any of our men in accomplishing that goal,” he added.