AMID complaints regarding the ill-behavior of some policemen manning Quarantine Control Points and Border Checkpoints to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus in the country, Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, has ordered all his commanders to ensure that their men will strictly adhere to PNP ethical standards or face the consequence of their improprieties.
The PNP chief cited the provisions of PNP Ethical Standards which require all members of the police force to conduct themselves properly while in public and in full performance of their duties with the prime consideration of respecting the right of the public.
Gen. Gamboa renewed his reminder thru a memorandum released by PNP Director for Operations, Major Gen. Emmanuel Luis D. Licup to all 17 police regional directors and heads of the different PNP national operational support units amid some complaints from the public.
The PNP chief in particular reminded all members of the force to observe courtesy at all times especially when dealing with female and elderly people. “They must also avoid taking photos of private documents and should strictly adhere to the PNP’s standard of conduct and behavior,” he said.
“"This is a fair warning to all the Regional Directors and their personnel on QCPs. If we continue to receive reports about being rude and impolite, I will not tolerate it and you shall be dealt with accordingly," Gen. Gamboa said.
The PNP chief also reminded drivers and crew of police vehicles involved in their Oplan: Libreng Sakay to extend utmost courtesy and all possible assistance to the commuting public while strictly observing physical distancing while loading and offloading passengers.
Gen. Gamboa has also ordered the PNP Legal Service headed by Brigadier Gen. Matthew P. Baccay to study clear guidelines on how a policeman in uniform should react when his video is being taken by the public.
The PNP chief had maintained that unless they are not committing any breach of national security and are not violating the cop’s privacy, the public including motorists have all the right to take videos of the police in the streets specifically when they are being asked to stop for a routine check and other reasons.
According to Gen. Gamboa, he has directed the Joint Task Force COVID Shield headed by Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar to ‘remind our people when maximum tolerance is maximum’ in the wake of an incident in which a television reporter cried foul when he was accosted by policemen as he was taking their video in Marikina City.
“It should be within every situation, 2nd, we should also remind our personnel kelan mo puwedeng bawalan ang isang tao na kumuha ng video. That should be clear. Kung hindi involved sa national security which is very broad and it doesn’t violate private rights, then everybody is authorized to get a video.
That’s the general rule. Let’s not pertain to specific classes of the society.
That’s the general rule, everybody is authorized to get a video whether he’s from media or not because freedom of expression still exists in the Philippines,” Gen. Gamboa said.
“We also have to remind our personnel to keep their cool. Tao lang kasi, paminsan-minsan mainit ang ulo, matagal na sa checkpoints pero it’s not a reason for them not to observe basic tenets as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights,” the PNP chief added.
Gen. Gamboa however admitted it would require a thorough orientation. “Ang inisip kasi ng pulis, ang trabaho ko involves national security although there a thin line defining that, pero sa tingin ko dapat idefine. Pag ako, sa tingin ko, pag huhulihin ka, pinapaaral ko sa Legal Service, ano ang problema kung kukuhanan ka ng video,”
“There’s nothing wrong with that I think. Ang problema lang eh pag naiba ang ikuwento mo sa social media post mo, baliktarin mo ang kuwento. Yun ang delikado,” he said
“But of course, being public servant, we should not be onion-skinned. We’re up for public scrutiny but this should be properly understood by our policemen especially those on the ground,” he explained.