Abra Provincial Capitol, February 18, 2015. “We in the Philippine National Police must continue to harness the collective wisdom, expertise, and enthusiasm of NGOs, people’s organizations, and civil society. We need their support and cooperation to accomplish our vision and goal of institutionalizing the respect for human rights as a way of life in the PNP.

This is what this Forum is all about. Therefore, let us encourage and organize more community-based dialogues and multi-stakeholder consultations to make the PNP more relevant and responsive to the needs and expectations of the community”, espoused by PCSUPT ANTONIO BELLO VIERNES, Chief of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office during a live interview with the local reporters of GMA 7 on February 18, 2015 at the Provincial Capitol of Bangued Abra.

Consistent with LOI “Pamana” 55/O7, otherwise known as the PNP Human Rights Development Program, the Philippine National Police, through the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office (HRAO) and in partnership with the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany (HSF) again took the lead in conducting the CSO-PNP Human Rights-Based Policing Forum held on February 18, 2015 at the Social Hall of Abra Provincial Capitol, Bangued Abra.

The said Forum, attended by the presidents of Association of Barangay Captains of Abra, Civil Society Organizations, officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Commission on Human Rights, and Police Regional Office Cordillera, was underscored with the theme “Mamamayan at Pamahalaan, Kapit-Bisig sa Pagsulong ng Karapatan sa Kaunlaran” and had the objectives to provide our police personnel and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) a common understanding of the police operational procedures (POP) as well as on how it relates to rights-based policing; and how the PNP and CSO representatives can work together to further promote the respect for human rights.

Key recommendations emphasized during the open forum included, among others: improving competencies and professional conduct in dealing with the community as well as a clamor that the forum should not be an end in itself, but only a point of convergence from which the PNP and the community leaders of Abra must launch a concerted effort to solve the human rights issues and concerns of the community, in the days, months, and years ahead.

Also in attendance during the said Forum were Atty. Harold Kob-Aron, Officer-In-Charge of the Commission on Human Rights Cordillera Administrative Region and PSSUPT ALBERTLITO S. GARCIA, Provincial Director of Abra PPO and the official representative of PCSUPT ISAGANI R. NEREZ, Regional Director of Police Regional Office Cordillera, who together with Mr. Noel Ruiz, Program Officer of the HSF and PCSUPT VIERNES acted as members of the panel during the open forum of the said activity.

On the other hand, in an equally important undertaking, the PNP HRAO spearheaded by PCSUPT ANTONIO BELLO VIERNES, Chief of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office also conducted lock-up cell inspections in Bangued Municipal Police Station, Bangued, Abra; Pidigan Municipal Police Station, Pidigan, Abra; Narvacan Municipal Police Station, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur; Vigan City Police Station, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur and; Nagbukel Police Station, Nagbukel, Ilocos Sur, from February 18 to 19, 2015.

“The random and surprise inspection was conducted to ensure that persons under custody are treated in a humane and dignified manner and to uphold their individual rights pursuant to human rights standards and existing laws. The inspection was also conducted to monitor observance of established procedures and guidelines in detention management in order to improve the living conditions of detainees”, PCSUPT VIERNES elucidated.

Likewise, during the inspection, Chiefs of Human Rights Desks and Custodial Offices were reminded on the strict compliance of the provisions of RA No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture and other related laws pertaining to the protection of human rights of all detainees.