Business as usual for impunity in the PNP

Amnesty International Philippines

Press Release

23 October 2019

As a country with an exemplary record on signing up to human rights treaties, the Philippines continues to fail on its human rights commitments by maintaining ‘business as usual’ on its ‘war on drugs’ and skipping robust prosecution of erring members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) implicated in extrajudicial execution cases.

“The PNP has always been all-gun-no-badge. They were already abusing their powers even before Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’. It was somehow a given that the culture of impunity in the PNP will remain pervasive, which was very conducive for a policy that depended on sweeping dirt under the rug. The Philippines has crossed the Rubicon with the exposé on ‘ninja cops’ with the former Chief PNP on the spotlight. There’s no other way forward but to effectively prosecute corrupt cops towards breaking the cycle of impunity,” said Butch Olano, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director.

Amnesty International Philippines said that the main problem in filing complaints against corrupt PNP officials is bureaucracy. Those who complain will have to hurdle inconsistencies in rules and unclear procedures for filing cases which only end up dismissed on various technicalities.

A four-page document from the Internal Affairs Services (IAS) of the PNP revealed that from 2015 to 2017, they recommended penalties for 2,431 administrative cases. However, only 721 or 29.65% of the cases had their resolutions implemented while 1,710 were not acted upon.

“The latest figures released by PNP’s IAS says so much about how human rights violations committed by police officers under the ‘war on drugs’ are poorly investigated, why most of them get off scot-free, and how it reflects the lack of streamlined independent complaint mechanism within the PNP which makes it virtually impossible to get an administrative decision,” added Olano.

Amnesty International Philippines decry the lack of concerted effort to wipe out the culture of impunity. The Philippines failed to conduct thorough investigations or prosecutions and no effective prevention was implemented to decrease the number on deaths during police drugs-related operations.

“With the state of PNP accountability mechanisms, most erring police officers forum-shop for their cases choosing the most favorable venue where they will likely get a dismissal. This leads me to ICC’s complementarity principle where the Prosecutor encourages investigations and proceedings at the national level, so that states fulfil their primary obligation to investigate and prosecute crimes. If at the level of the PNP, they’re not able to hold their police officers accountable for extrajudicial executions, there is obviously a glaring failure to uphold this ICC principle.” Concluded Olano.