Press Release
May 27, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to desist from involving itself in the enforcement of law order and to leave this function in the hands of the Philippine National Police, particularly in highly urbanized areas like Metro Manila.

Pimentel said this should be adopted as a government policy to prevent the unwarranted and wanton violations of human rights as shown in the abduction, detention and torture of five supporters of former President Joseph Estrada.

He said the military may be allowed to undertake law enforcement function only in far-flung areas where there is little or no police presence, but this should be on a temporary basis only and after due training to respect the human rights and civil liberties of our people.

The police are trained on the policies and rules on law enforcement. But the soldiers have an entirely different training and orientation from the police, the minority leader said.

Pimentel pointed out that the function of the soldiers is basically to defend the state against the enemies of the state, particularly the external enemies.

The police, he further explained, should arrest suspects, not even criminals, because a suspect becomes a criminal only upon conviction by the courts.

Pimentel said it is only when the suspects, after their arrest, are brought before the bar of justice and convicted by the court of law that they become criminals.

But when members of the Armed Forces get involved in the matter of implementing law and order, their basic orientation is to kill the enemy! It is not to arrest the enemy. Their basic orientation is to shoot first before asking questions, he said.

Pimentel called on Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz to seriously consider his suggestion that insofar as enforcement of law in order is concerned, the military should defer to the police. In this regard, he said the AFP and PNP should perhaps sit down and set a clear demarcation line between the military and police in combating internal enemies.

He challenged Secretary Cruz and Gen. Generoso Senga, AFP chief-of-staff, to punish officials and operatives of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) responsible for the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the five Estrada followers and not to tolerate any attempt to cover up their abuses and violations of laws and rules of military conduct.

They cannot allow these offenses to go unpunished, otherwise the reputation of the AFP will be tarnished, he said.

Pimentel said it would be a pity if the AFP, PNP and Department of Justice will cover up this incident because they are supposed to protect the rights and safety of the people and not to give refuge to those who have committed infractions of law and human rights abuses.

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