PNP sets guidelines in dealing with reluctant witnesses
MANILA, Philippines — In order to avoid the pileup of “cold cases”, the Philippine National Police (PNP) set guidelines on how to deal with witnesses to crimes who show reluctance to cooperate in investigations.
In a recent directive, PNP Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome ordered all police investigators nationwide to “exert more effort to encourage complainants and witnesses to pursue the investigation for the prompt prosecution of cases.”
It is the duty, he said, of investigators to look for and gather evidence “and not the responsibility of the victim.”
“Witnesses [who] are normally sent an invitation frequently make excuses not to cooperate or give substantial information because of the fear of reprisal and to avoid inconveniences,” Bartolome said in a statement.
He said this would result in the increased number of cold and dismissed cases for insufficiency or lack of interest to pursue the case on the part of the complainant.
Bartolome instructed all investigation units to avoid any circumstances that might inconvenience the witnesses during the investigation of criminal cases.
He said the PNP should accord protection considering possible threats the eyewitness may face for cooperating in the investigation of a case.
“All Unit Commanders are advised to provide assistance to the complainants/witnesses for the duration of the case, which includes: going to and from the police stations during the taking of testimonies and in providing description to generate facial composite of the suspect/s; going to and from the court/prosecutor’s office during the conduct of preliminary investigation or during the giving of testimonies in court; and analogous cases,” Bartolome said.
The investigator must also sign a notarized sworn statement/affidavit, if no more information can obtained from a witness or if he or she is not willing to divulge more information for documentation process, he added.
“Credible police service means working in partnership with a responsive community in securing a safer environment,” Bartolome said.
“Mutual cooperation between the police, the complainant and witnesses may help in the attainment of peace and order in every community,” he added.