Leaders of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) held a meeting on Tuesday to initiate a partnership in upholding human rights in all police operations, and to ensure that police abuses will come to an end.
In a press conference following the meeting, CHR Chair Jose Luis C. “Chito” Gascon said he and the CHR commissioners were able to engage PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa in a good exchange of ideas for an hour.
This was the first time CHR was able to talk to the PNP, Gascon said.
He gave some suggestions and requested for the case folders regarding the deaths in which police officers were involved, as well as those related to the war on drugs under investigation.
He also asked for the status of persons who had been arrested, were in jail, or had already been processed, and sought mechanisms to enable CHR to fulfill its mandate on visits to jails and other places of detention.
Department of the Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy stressed that DILG and the PNP recognized the mandate of the CHR in the observance of human rights, adding that the police are making sure human rights were respected in all police operations.
Cuy pointed out that DILG and the PNP would be working and coordinating more closely with CHR regularly.
According to Gascon, there would be a monthly meeting among the heads of the three agencies, and they would be working on a “mechanism” acceptable to all.
The partnership would help them in cleansing the ranks, Cuy said.
Asked if this collaboration would reduce President Rodrigo Duterte’s antagonism towards CHR, Cuy replied instead that the discussion among those who attended the meeting was “very cordial,” and they agreed that there really was no conflict between the CHR and the PNP.
Human rights is one of its priorities, DILG’s Cuy added. “Wala tayong pinagtatalunan (There is no dispute on that).”
For his part, Gascon said that CHR is not in the business of obstructing justice; rather, its objective was to ensure that everyone attained justice.
He asked that the government help CHR look at each individual case, thoroughly, to see whether there were any violations of established police operations procedures – something that the PNP said was in place along with human rights guarantees.
This partnership among the three agencies was just the first step, he said. Abuses were still possible, which is why it was important to monitor and exercise vigilance.
“Truth and accountability: Alamin ang mga nangyari at naganap, at kung merong dapat managot, dapat panagutin sila (Ascertain what happened, and if anyone has to answer for it, they must be held accountable),” Gascon said.
He added that the PNP leadership affirmed that they would uphold human rights, and the CHR would be holding them to their word.