NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 27 August) — Crimes committed by civilians against other civilians like theft, rape, murder and the like, are the concern and responsibility of the government law enforcing agencies like the Philippine Naitonal Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), etc… a task to pursue in coordination with the judiciary. In a nutshell, the protection and security of the human rights of citizens and other nationals within the territory of a state are the function of the government or its rightful agents.
The flagrant accusation that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is negligent or selective in the exercise of it functions by focusing only on alleged abuses of police officers and turning blind eyes to rapists and murderers related to prohibited drugs is grossly misplaced. The CHR is institutionalized by the Constitution with the primary role to protect civilians from the excesses of the government or its agents in the exercise of their functions. The excesses could mean the deprivation of a civilian of his right to life, liberty or property.
It is therefore natural, as publicly observed, that the CHR has focused its attention and interest on allegations of abuses of PNP officers in the conduct of their law- enforcing activities, such as in warrantless search and arrest, forced confession, summary execution or the absence of due process, or the exercise of their duties outside the bounds of law.
The CHR has been in the receiving end of derision in the widespread and wild misconception of its role in governance.
Contrary to the paranoiac apprehension that the Senate probe on extrajudicial killing was aimed to embarrass the President and derail the war on illegal drugs, the Senate hearing instead came out very helpful and supportive in sustaining and winning the war. Of course the hearing inescapably exposed the weaknesses and lapses of the current campaign. But identifying weaknesses is vital to developing strengths. It is therefore something to welcome, not to deride or condemn. It was shown in the hearing that the combined law enforcing authorities are deficit in many fronts in conducting the fight on illegal drugs. Consider the following:
The gathering of evidence against most suspects is generally based on hearsay and those performed following intelligence standard procedures proved inadequate and insufficient to hail suspects to court.
Moreover there is evident shortage of appropriate manpower to move the drug battles to the proper court from the chilling carnage in dark alleys and stinking shanties and from the trial by publicity in the mass and social media..
Also, trained personnel and rehab facilities for drug addicts are non-existing in many parts of the country to attend to and accommodate thousands of surrenderers. And the detention facilities are already bursting to the helms to further accommodate convicted drug felons, if ever.
After identifying the weaknesses and lapses, a number of measures were proposed to correct them, such as rigid training, discipline and a foolproof recruitment policy to augment and develop a professional PNP; the organization of the ideal structure to handle the necessary programs for the purpose; the creation of a legal unit to assist PNP enforcers in court battles on cases resulting from the legitimate execution of their functions; the acquisition of pertinent equipment and tools; and the construction of attendant infrastructures for the rehabilitation of drug criminals and addicts; the need to revise existing laws or pass new ones to improve law enforcement especially in critical times like the present, and to increase budgetary allocations for all the proposed capacity building and strengthening measures.
There is no doubt that the crusade against the drug menace has the support not only of the Senate but by all sectors of society, except that many are alarmed by the lack of adherence to the rule of law in its conduct which perilously endangers the very foundation of our democratic society. (Mindaviews is the opinion section of mindanews. William R. Adan is retired professor and former chancellor of the Mindanao State University Naawan campus, Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.}