HUMAN Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday challenged the country’s highest ranking police official to hold policemen involved in human-rights violation accountable for their crimes and turn the organization into protector of the people.
In a letter to Director General Ricardo Marquez, National Police chief, Phelim Kine, HRW deputy director for Asia, said Marquez has the opportunity to turn the force into “a rights-respecting, professional organization.”
“He has the duty and the responsibility to make sure that the National Police meets its domestic and international human-rights obligations,” Kine said.
He said Marquez should ensure prompt, transparent and impartial investigations of alleged police abuses and act against those responsible, regardless of rank.
HRW noted that police personnel have long been implicated in human-rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings and the special task force created to look into such crimes failed to meet expectations.
According to to Kine, Task Force Usig, created in 2006 to investigate the extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists, secured only nine convictions out of the 181 cases it has documented since 2001.
The task force, he said, should to improve its investigation and documentation of cases of alleged extrajudicial killings and should submit a regular progress report on the status of the cases.
He prefers that, if possible, Task Force Usig should submit a monthly report.
Kine said extrajudicial killing in the Philippines has become “an epidemic.”
In May last year the group submitted a report and recommendations on summary killings in Tagum City in Mindanao, which identified officers assigned to the Tagum City police involved in the operation and control of the so-called Tagum Death Squad.
“Marquez should reform the national police’s Human Rights Affairs Office, which has failed in its role as a monitor for police human-rights violations,” Kine said. “It’s in his hands whether the police can transform itself from predator to protector of the people.”