Officials of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have agreed to set up a meeting so they can discuss the rules of the police’s campaign against loiterers who are violating city ordinances and other laws.
Appearing as a guest on “The Chiefs,” a program over One News on Cignal TV, CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz and PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. discussed issues on intensified operations against idlers on the streets in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive.
Durana read reminders that Senator Francis Pangilinan posted to the public: remain calm when accosted by the police, ask for the name and unit of the person and the reason for accosting, explain one’s side but not quarrel with policemen and, if arrested, to be allowed to call a relative or a lawyer.
He said people should follow these and warned them against signing any document without understanding its contents and never try to escape when already under police custody. He also implored people to be aware of the laws and regulations and be alert for rogue police officers who might plant evidence on them, to seek witnesses and, if possible, take photographs and videos.
“Ignorance of the law is never an excuse,” he said.
Cadiz and Durana got in a heated debate over the issue of loiterers being accosted by the police for violations of city and municipal ordinances as Cadiz initially said there was confusion when the police followed Duterte’s order to the letter.
“The people got confused as loitering is not a crime and yet there were arrests,” Cadiz said.
Durana retaliated with “it’s very clear he (Cadiz) is trying to insinuate that we are interpreting the president’s statement word for word,” for implying that they just obeyed President Rodrigo Duterte’s order without any regard to existing laws and regulations.
Durana, though he admitted that some police officers have committed irregularities in the conduct of anti-criminality operations, insisted that there was never any confusion in the PNP when it implemented Duterte’s order within the bounds of the law.
According to him, erring policemen are being investigated, and cases are not just being swept under the rug.
Aside from this, Cadiz and Durana also fought when the latter stated that 11,251 people in Metro Manila were accosted as of Tuesday, June 26.
Cadiz stressed that these people were not only reprimanded but brought to police stations.
Durana, for his part, clarified that while all the idlers were brought to police stations, only 96 people, or 0.85 percent, were actually charged while the rest were released to their respective barangay officials or parents, in cases of minors.
He also clarified the offenders were only accosted and not arrested as opposed to what Cadiz implied.
The two officials then talked about setting up a meeting to fine-tune the campaign and for the CHR to understand the police guidelines and provide ideas during a break in the program.
Although the meeting is not yet finalized, Cadiz welcomed the opportunity to discuss and thresh out the issues.