February 4, 2016, Quezon City. “As fellow stakeholders of human rights, we are inspired by the spirit of solidarity and mutual cooperation. More than just responding to the requirements of human rights laws, we are here to jointly express our firm commitment to uphold the rights of all persons, including persons deprived of liberty, simply because we all need to preserve our inherent dignity and value as human beings. We in the PNP need your support, but our success lies in a more vital factor, our collective will to confront human rights challenges.” This was the encompassing message of PDG RICARDO C MARQUEZ, Chief of the Philippine National Police as espoused by PDDG DANILO S CONSTANTINO, The Deputy Chief, PNP for Operations during the Closing Ceremony of the 1st National Summit on Torture Prevention
held on February 4, 2016 at Hotel Rembrandt, Quezon City which was attended by heads of key national agencies and branches of the government, such as Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries of the DILG and DOJ and star rank officers of the PNP, among others.
On the other hand, Honorable Jose Luis Martin C Gascon, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights stressed that torture is a grave human rights violation as it transgresses the very core of human dignity and it is to this end that torture has been and will always be one of the main thrusts of the Commission on Human Rights and the PNP.
Atty. Jacqueline C de Guia, Regional Director, CHR IV, explained that Summit is the culmination of the nationwide implementation of the Torture Prevention Ambassador (TPA) project of the Commission on Human Rights which has the objective to the objective to prevent the occurrence of torture by the conduct of preventive visits and dialogues as well as trainings not only on knowledge of Human Rights laws but also to modify or influence perceptions/attitudes through participatory, consultative, and inclusive approach thereby uplifting the welfare of the PNP and persons deprived of liberty.
The first phase was implemented through the conduct of Custodial Facility Visits and Focus Group Discussions on Torture Prevention and Human Rights to selected police stations nationwide while the second phase started on June 26, 2015 through the conduct of nationwide Consultative Regional Based Dialogue on Torture Prevention in line with the celebration of the International Day in Support for the Victims of Torture.
Further, the Summit, which gathered 200 participants, had 5 sessions wherein the CHR presented its Policy Advisories on: The Lack of Standard Police Stations and Lock Up Cells in Some Municipalities and Cities, PNP’s Compliance on the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Right to Adequate Food of PNP Detainees; Human Rights Based Approach Training of PNP Personnel in Handling Detainees; and the PNP Modernization Bill.
Cited are the response/comments/recommendations which were culled out from the 5 sessions:
1. On the CHR Advisory Re Lack of Standard Police Stations and Lock Up Cells in Some Municipalities and Cities
- PCSUPT MANUEL B FELIX, Deputy Director for Logistics: “At present, the PNP has 141 Police Stations including substations that do not have custodial facilities. With the able representation to the House of Congress for the GAA FY 2016, the PNP, in relation to its modernization and capacity enhancement program, has been allocated a total of Php1,549,999,998.56 which would fund the construction of 279 standard Police Stations of the 823 not standard police stations collocated with LGU/municipal buildings. Should the PNP be continuously allocated with the same fund, all our police stations will already be considered Standard Police Stations in three years time inclusive of custodial facilities”.
- Gemma F. Parojinog, OIC, CHR Policy Office: “We must urge LGUs to prioritize and fast track the donation of lots and shoulder their counterpart in the construction of standard police stations. There is a need for the PNP and LGUs to constantly revisit the areas allocated for detention facilities taking into account increase in populations and crimes.
2. On the CHR Advisory Re PNP’s Compliance on the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Person Deprived of Liberty (PDLs)
- PSSUPT OMEGA D JIREH FIDEL, C, CMD, DIDM thanked the CHR for the observation and manifested that the PNP regularly submits inventories of Persons Under Police Custody and PNP Custodial Facilities and maintains official police blotter. The PNP does not and will not tolerate any Human Rights Violation. Commented on the slow issuance of commitment order of persons under police custody which contributes to the congestion of PNP custodial facilities. He likewise Assured the CHR of the PNP’s commitment to comply with the requirements of RA No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act) as well as adhere to the standards set by UN on the treatment of persons under police custody and to take the recommended steps as provided in the CHR advisory.
- PSSUPT EDGARDO A GONOCRUZ, C, RDD, DICTM: The PNP, as part of its modernization program, adopts technologies to enhance our functions. We can enhance information and dissemination to the public by putting up an Information System that we can link to the PNP website pursuant to Section 7 (Prohibited Detention) of RA No. 9745 and to ensure that the public will know of the conditions of Persons under Police Custody. A TWG Meeting must be convened for this purpose and an in depth study should be made to iron out the project. Further, we will also recommend the installation of CCTVs in PNP Custodial Facilities to deter crimes and to monitor the handling of PDL.
- Flora C Atilano, Director IV, CHR Protection Office: PNP to come up with a Policy Guideline outlining the form, the content, and the security precautions of police station’s registry/logbook to maintain integrity of data pertaining to the PDLs.
3. On the CHR Advisory Re Right to Adequate Food of Persons under Police Custody:
- PSSUPT LURIMER B DETRAN, Acting EX-O, DC: PNP to recommend to Congress amendment Re Inclusion of the PNP manning Custodial Facilities in the “Prisoner’s Subsistence Allowance”
- Gwendolyn LL. Pimentel-Gana, Commissioner, CHR: There is a need to urge the Legislative and the DBM to provide allocation for the food of persons under police custody or Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL). This shall benefit not only the PDLs but also the local police who absorb the cost through their MOOE’s and from their own pockets.
4. On the CHR Advisory Re HRBA Training of PNP Personnel in Handling Detainees
- PSSUPT PRIMO B GOLINGAY, Chief, GDD, HRDD: Human Rights-Based Approach Training in the handling of Detainees should be integrated in the PNP Basic Recruit Course and also in Mandatory and Specialized Courses and for the PNP and PPSC to revisit the POI/Curriculum on HR and IHL so that it will become responsive to the needs of the CHR Advisories.
- Karen Gomez-Dumpit, Commissioner, CHR: There is a need to capacitate police officers as “jail custodians” absent any law or proposed legislation on the maintenance of lock up cells to be transferred to the BJMP. Continuing education on the Anti-Torture Act, Convention Against Torture, and the UN Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners, among others, must likewise be ensured.
5. On the Position Paper Supporting the PNP Modernization Bill
- PDIR NOEL LAZARUS C VARGAS, TDPL: There is a need to highlight and prioritize modernization of the PNP to respond to the needs of the 20th The PNP Reorganization and Modernization is replete with compliances to the CHR requirements: Infrastructure takes into consideration the welfare of the Persons with Disability, Senior Citizens, Pregnant Women, Segregation of Male and Female custodial cells; and Training involves active participation. Human Rights policies are already made as integral part of the PNP. The proposed Model Police Stations now have two sets of custodial facilities (Male and Female) and the measurements of which must be in accordance with the CHR and UN Standards. We in the PNP must intensify awareness and actions on human rights by being Human Rights Champions and Advocates so that when we bow out of service, the next generation of officers will continue what we have started. We must undergo Human Rights Education twice a year. Start HR education with the cadets and fresh recruits so that awareness on Human Rights policies will be imbedded and appreciated by them.
- Homero Matthew P. Rusiana, Director IV, CHR FOO: The CHR proposed that the creation and existence of the PNP HRAO be included and further entrenched in the PNP Modernization Act, to specify with clarity its position in the Organizational Structure with a corresponding staffing compliment in the main office and in all police stations. Inclusion of HRAO in the creation of the Board on Manual and Doctrine Development (BMDD).
Through the Summit, The Honorable Undersecretary EDWIN C ENRILE of the DILG assured the PNP that a representation will be made in the next meeting of the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) for the fast tracking of the issuance of commitment order of persons under police custody by the DOJ for their immediate transfer to the BJMP in order to address the issue of congestion of custodial facilities.
Meanwhile, the National Summit also highlighted a press conference wherein PCSUPT DENNIS A SIERVO, Chief of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office (PNP-HRAO) emphasized that the 5 pillars of the Criminal Justice System must continue to cooperate and come up with better policies and mechanisms to prevent torture in order to institutionalize respect for human rights as a way of life in the country.
“We must press on and work to implement the provisions of the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and other human rights treaties in which we are a state party”, PCSUPT DENNIS A SIERVO elucidated further. In attendance during the said press conference include reporters from ABS-CBN, UNTV, and TV 5, among others.
The Torture Prevention Ambassador Project (TPA Project) is a special project of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) in collaboration with the Philippine National Police (PNP) through the initiative of the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) and Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT).
It was launched last October 2014 in Australia by the APF together with other National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI’s) of other countries such as Maldives, South Korea, East Timor, New Zealand, Australia, and Mongolia.
To ensure the smooth implementation of the project, the Commission took into account the relevant mandate of the CHR that will contribute to the achievement of the PNP P.A.T.R.O.L. Plan 2030 Vision of providing a HIGHLY CAPABLE, EFFECTIVE, AND CREDIBLE POLICE SERVICE.