From Alfred Dalizon’s column in People’s Journal: I fully agree with former Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson when he declared that the conviction of a former policeman for the brutal killing of two teenagers in 2017 along with the resulting law transferring the training of police recruits to the Philippine National Police should help spell the end for “drug-related” torture and murder – and other abuses involving rogues in uniform.
A grim lesson for rogues in uniform
December 4, 2022
I FULLY agree with former Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson when he declared that the conviction of a former policeman for the brutal killing of two teenagers in 2017 along with the resulting law transferring the training of police recruits to the Philippine National Police should help spell the end for “drug-related” torture and murder – and other abuses involving rogues in uniform.
The former PNP chief who is now simply known as Citizen Ping stressed this as he noted the grim lesson from the conviction of former Police Officer 1 Jeffrey Perez should reinforce the improved training for police recruits as provided by Republic Act 11279 – which he sponsored after investigating the case in the Senate.
“A stern lesson from the past has been served to our future policemen. The conviction of ex-PO1 Perez, along with the improved training of police recruits as provided by RA 11279, should drive home the message that there is no room for unfit and erring police officers, a.k.a. ICU Cops – the Inept, Corrupt and Undisciplined,” said Lacson.
“Having crossed paths with these ICU Cops as Chief PNP from 1999 to 2001, I exhort the PNP leadership to continue eviscerating the police ranks via a thorough training as well as sustained internal cleansing efforts, until no misfit is left,” he added.
Last week, Caloocan Judge Rodrigo Pascua Jr. found Perez guilty for violating the Anti-Torture Act of 2019 and planting of evidence in the killing of Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman, 14, in Rizal in August 2017. Perez was also ordered to pay to the victims’ heirs P1 million in moral damages and P1 million in exemplary damages.
Court records showed Perez and his co-accused, the late former PO1 Ricky Arquilita, claimed Arnaiz was killed in a shootout in Caloocan City, supposedly while fleeing after allegedly trying to rob a taxi. De Guzman’s body was found on Sept. 5, 2017 in a creek in Kinabayuhan in Gapan City with several stab wounds and with packing tape wrapped around his head.
As a result, Perez was dismissed from the police service in October 2018 while the case against Arquilita was junked after his death in April 2019. After probing the case, Lacson in 2018 sponsored Senate Bill 1898 seeking to transfer the training of police recruits from the Philippine Public Safety College to the Philippine National Police (PNP) after noting the PPSC’s quality of training had deteriorated, resulting in its graduates being involved in crimes and other irregularities including bribery, kidnapping, drug use and planting of evidence.
The bill became law in 2019 as Republic Act 11279 – a development that Lacson said should give the PNP the needed tool to build a physically and morally competent police force while beefing up its internal cleansing efforts.
“While we were conducting hearings on the abuses by scalawags in uniform, I felt the pain of having the name of the institution I once served with pride, dignity, and honor being dragged through the mire. Yet amid these anomalies that spark public outrage, we managed to see clearly and address the lapses in the recruitment and education of our police officers – phases that make up the formative stage of becoming a law enforcer,” Lacson said.
“Ultimately, our law enforcers must realize that they are mandated to uphold the law, not violate it,” said the highly respected former PNP chief-turned incorruptible lawmaker.
Indeed, Citizen Ping has found an ally in the person of PNP Chief, Gen. Jun Azurin, his former subordinate at the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force. Under Gen. Azurin, the PNP is singing a much different hymn called “Life is Beautiful.” Thru that song, the PNP aims to work in unison to preserve life and protect the public at all cost.
However, Gen. Azurin has underscored that although the primordial duty of each and every member of the 226,000-strong force is to strictly follow the rule of law, they must at all times be ready to defend themselves when confronted by armed and defiant criminals.
The PNP chief also maintained that as much as possible, he doesn’t want any of his men to be lying in a coffin, shot to death by dangerous criminals they were trying to arrest and leaving their poor widows and kids.
Thus, he has ordered his men to draw their guns when their lives are really in danger. “My policy that I emphasized to every police officer is that we will not endanger their lives. We minimize the use of force in arresting drug suspects. But definitely, when they are in danger, they have to defend themselves,” he said.
The top cop is right. Nobody would want to see a hardworking and brave policeman lying inside a coffin and scheduled to be buried six feet below the ground after being shot by merciless criminals. And don’t forget the more than 300 policemen who have died in the line of duty since 2016, either shot dead by New People’s Army rebels or cold-blooded criminals and drug traffickers they were about to arrest.
The latest member of the force to be killed is Staff Sgt. Rudy Amihan Jr. of the M’lang Municipal Police Station in Cotabato who was killed in a gunbattle with heavily armed robbers in the municipality last week.
Two other policemen identified as Patrolman Noli Labesores and Pat. Herzon Neyra were also wounded during the series of clashes which also left four of the suspects dead, my friend Police Regional Office 12 director Brig. Gen. Jimili Macaraeg told me.
“Sergeant Amihan died with his boots on, in the finest police tradition of valor, service and sacrifice to serve and protect the people,” Gen. Azurin said while embarking on another strategy to address criminality, specifically illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
“We aim to utilize a more holistic approach in combating crimes which would involve the church and the community through our Kasimbayanan program. The PNP, however, cannot promise zero casualty in its police operations, the safety of our personnel is also a priority,” he said.
The top cop likewise maintained that the recent conviction of Perez should serve as a lesson to all members of the force that no one is above the law in a country where respect for human rights remains a high priority. Well said, Sir.