Press Release
October 2, 2008

PNP chief's directive vs. media presentation of suspects 'an impressive start but reactionary'--Kiko

Senate Majority Leader and human rights advocate Kiko Pangilinan today called Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Jesus Versoza's ban on presenting criminal suspects to media "an impressive start."

"He has hit the ground running. That is exactly the kind of leader needed by law enforcement: Decisive in thought and action. Tama na ang pagpapapogi ng kapulisan. Dapat unahin nila ang trabaho bago magpabango sa publiko. Their job is to enforce the law. They should remember that," noted Kiko.

The new PNP head's first directive after assuming command last Saturday was to curb persistent abuse of criminal suspects through public humiliation and physical violence. Though the official memorandum order was still to be issued, two Muntinlupa City policemen were already under investigation for possible violation of the directive. Versoza said they would be made responsible for tolerating a brawl between an accuser and the accused while being covered by media.

"Such practices must stop. Until proven in court, an individual is presumed innocent by our constitution. This is something that should have been implemented a long time ago. That it has to be covered by yet another rule proves that the PNP truly needs reforms," added Kiko.

In his acceptance speech last Saturday, Versoza emphasized that he would continue the PNP Integrated Transformation Program resulting from the efforts of former PNP chiefs Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr., Edgar Aglipay and Arturo Lomibao. Launched in 2005 under Lomibao, its goal has been towards "transforming the PNP into a more capable, effective and credible police force."

Only three months ago, Commission on Human Rights Chair Leila de Lima described the law enforcement agency as the prime violator of human rights in the country. Versoza's first directive is said to be a response to this.

"He has raised the expectations of the public. While it is an impressive start for his term, it is reactionary. As PNP chief, he still has to prove that he can proactively lead the agency towards more lasting reforms. Hopefully, his next move will involve his own initiative and not coming from yet another criticism of the PNP's image. Versoza has much to do. He can expect the people to keep a close watch on his leadership of the PNP," Kiko emphasized.

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