MANILA — A police unit in charge of investigating fellow officers engaged in illegal activities said Tuesday it wanted to be independent from the Philippine National Police, which is grappling with allegations of drug recycling.
The Internal Affairs Service (IAS) is unlike its foreign counterparts, which are feared by rogue officers because they are independent from the police organization, said its director, Atty. Alfegar Triambulo.
Triambulo said IAS lacks power to protect witnesses against corrupt lawmen because it handles administrative cases, not criminal complaints.
"Kaya nga gusto namin hingin sa Senado na bigyan po kami ng tinatawag na proteksyon ng witness kasi pag nasampa na nila IAS, nagtatago sila dahil hina-hunting daw sila. Maraming gustong magsalita laban sa katiwalian sa pulis natin, pero natatakot kasi wala nga kaming ibinibigay na proteksyon sa kanila," Triambulo told radio DZMM.
(This is why we want to ask the Senate to give us power to protect witnesses who go into hiding after filing cases because they are allegedly hunted down. Many people would like to speak against police corruption, but they are afraid because we can't protect them.)
"Aming isinusulong na maging independent katulad ng mga IAS na aming napuntahan sa ibang bansa kaya sila ay matibay at kinatatakutan ng mga police organization."
(We are pushing to be independent, like the IAS units we visited in other countries, which are strong and feared by police organizations.)
Rogelio Casurao, National Police Commission (Napolcom) Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, also noted recommendations from the IAS are "subject to the approval of the Chief PNP."
PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde resigned Tuesday following accusations that he protected 13 Pampanga cops linked to the pilferage of 160 kilos of shabu in a 2013 operation.
A dismissal order against the Pampanga officers was downgraded to demotion after they filed a motion for recommendation, while the criminal cases against them were dismissed due to lack of evidence.
However, 4 of the 13 officers faced new criminal cases last June as well as a dismissal order for alleged attempted murder, robbery and planting of evidence in Antipolo, Rizal.
The officers allegedly fired at the vehicle of a certain Arnold Gramaje Jr. after he refused their order to alight.
He escaped, but the officers followed him home and allegedly carted away P30,000 and several gadgets.
The policemen failed to coordinate their operation with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the IAS earlier said.
The officers' report also named a barangay councilor as witness, but village records showed there was no such official.
The 4 policemen are still on duty pending the implementation of the dismissal order against them, said Triambulo.
Aggrieved parties who fail to get action from the PNP can lodge separate complaints in other disciplinary bodies like Napolcom or the Office of the Ombudsman, Casurao said.
"That will not constitute forum shopping kasi wala kang nakuhang aksyon sa pinagdulugan mo ng problema mo (because you did not get action from those you approached first)," he told radio DZMM.
Napolcom can also advise the Police Security and Protection Group, which provides protection to VIPs, to offer witness protection, he said.
"Kung nakakapagbigay tayo ng protection sa mga VIP, why can't we give protection dito sa mga taong tinatakot?," said Casurao.
(If we can give protection to VIPs, why can't we do so for those who are being threatened.)