Degamo widow wants PNP suspect public presentation rule changed
MANILA, Philippines — In the name of fairness, Municipal Mayor Janice Degamo of Pamplona, Negros Oriental province, is calling for a policy change on how suspects are presented to the public
During Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, his widow told senators that it is “high time” to amend the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) rule of not presenting suspects to the public.
During the third day of the Senate inquiry, the panel examined a shooting incident that involved the proprietors of a small business in Dumaguete City. The trader identified the perpetrator as active police officer Noel Alabata, who was subsequently arrested by law enforcement officers.
However, according to Mayor Degamo, former Dumaguete City Police chief Col. Ramoncelio Sawan refused to present Alabata’s photos to the public.
“That particular protocol has to change in the name of the legislation, in the name of fairness. ‘Pag aso nga nawawala, we can take pictures of the dog, post it over sa mga area kung saan dapat makita at mahanap natin ‘yung aso (When a dog goes missing, we can take pictures of the dog, post it in areas where we should see and find the dog),” the Pamplona mayor pointed out.
“But this time, especially since it involves a PNP officer, I think it is high time that that protocol if indeed it is, has to change in the name of fairness,” she added.
Sawan justified his action, saying he was following PNP protocols. He also explained that since Alibata was already under police custody – therefore not a wanted man – there would be no “tactical or strategic“ value in revealing his face to the public.
Senator Bato dela Rosa, a former chief of the PNP, empathized with Sawan while likewise concurring with Degamo. He said he would look into the mayor’s suggestion.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, for his part, said changing the policy on the matter does not have to go through a legislative process because the PNP chief may craft protocols for the police force.
“Baka pwede nating kausapin ‘yung Napolcom (National Police Commission) na baguhin ‘yung mga protocols na ‘yan, ‘yung mga memorandum circulars covering that issue,” he said.
(Maybe we can talk to Napolcom to change the protocols and the memorandum circulars covering that issue.)
Aside from Degamo’s assassination, the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by dela Rosa is also inquiring into other political killings in the country, including the alleged “pattern of impunity” in Negros Oriental – which was why the shooting incident involving owners of a small business in Dumaguete City was likewise discussed during Wednesday’s hearing.
Negros Oriental mayors led by Pamplona Mayor Degamo had met with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, as they sought help from the national government to address the alleged violence in their province.