By Arwen Pascua
MANILA — The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement that would pave the way for the formal investigation of all police operations relating to the campaign against illegal drugs in the last five years.
The MOA was signed by Police General Guillermo Lorenzo T Eleazar for the PNP and Director Eric B Distor, officer-in-charge of the NBI in a ceremony held at the Department of Justice (DOJ) main office in Manila on Wednesday afternoon, November 3, 2021.
The four-page MOA serves as an authority for the two agencies to build cases against PNP personnel who would be found violating the criminal laws in the conduct of operations against illegal drug personalities across the country.
“The PNP and the NBI shall jointly evaluate the government’s anti-illegal drug operations, and, where necessary, determine possible criminal liability on the part of the police officers involved in these operations,” the MOA read.
“As state agencies, both Parties seek to ascertain the truth regarding the allegations of human rights violations and possible criminal liability in the conduct of government’s anti-illegal drug operations,” it added.
The Agreement emphasizes the commitment of the PNP and the NBI in supporting each other in terms of sharing all documents, records, and pieces of evidence relating to the police anti-drug operations; and, undertaking investigation, case build-up, and the possible filing of criminal complaints against any police officer who would be found violating the laws.
The MOA also requires both the PNP and the NBI to prepare a full and detailed report of all relevant findings and recommendations.
Under the Agreement, the PNP is expected to designate representatives from the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) and the NBI to name representatives from its Office of the Assistant Director for Regional Operations Service, Office of the Assistant Director for Investigation Service, Office of the Assistant Director for Intelligence Service, and the Office of the Assistant Director for Forensic Service. The designation of the representatives must be done within 15 days after the signing of the MOA.
Representatives from both the PNP and the NBI will form the PNP-NBI Joint Investigation Team, their meeting is set at least once a month.
“The signing of this Agreement is proof of the PNP’s commitment to transparency and accountability and in order to finally settle the allegations of human rights abuses that have been hounding the government’s aggressive campaign against illegal drugs since July 2016,” said PGen Eleazar.
“Through this Agreement, we will be able to ferret out the truth and correct the wrong impression that all our operations relating to illegal drugs campaign are tainted with human rights abuse. Napakalaki ng sakripisyo ng ating kapulisan sa kampanyang ito at marami din kaming kasamahan na nagbuwis ng buhay at nasugatan sa aming mga operasyon,” he added.
PGen Eleazar also emphasized that the aggressive campaign against illegal drugs did not only result in the confiscation of the multi-billion worth of illegal drugs, dismantling of all shabu laboratories in the country, and the neutralization of key players in illegal drugs smuggling and distribution across the country. He said that the aggressive campaign also resulted in the unprecedented reduction of index crime by almost 70 percent in the last five years.
For his part, Director Distor assured impartiality in the conduct of the investigation.
“The NBI shares the goal of the PNP to put an end to the illegal drugs problems in the country. We have been coordinating and working together to address this problem through joint operations and information sharing,” said Director Distor.
“We assure impartiality in the conduct of the investigation and we are confident that this would finally address the concerns on the manner by which the government’s illegal drug operations have been undertaken and to correct what needs to be corrected in the interest of truth and justice,” he added.
At least 52 cases involving 154 police officers will be prioritized by the PNP-NBI Joint Investigation Team. Those cases were already reviewed by the DOJ and were recommended for further investigation and case build-up.
PGen Eleazar earlier coordinated with the DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra, through Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año, for the conduct of review of the 52 cases of police operations earlier flagged by the IAS for possible violation of the Police Operational Procedures.
The criminal cases that may be recommended by the Joint Investigation Team are separate from the administrative cases that would be pursued by the IAS. (ai/mtvn)