FIRST, history and figures.
In 2003, the Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer study found that 69 percent of Filipinos saw the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be the most corrupt government agency. A Pulse Asia survey in 2009 showed that 32 percent of Filipino adults viewed the PNP as the second most corrupt, with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as forerunner. In 2016, under the Ombudsman’s list, out of its 2,799 cases, 1,022 cases were against cops. The percentage drop in President Rodrigo Duterte’s net satisfaction rating in the Social Weather Station survey was attributed to the citizens’ perception on the spate of extrajudicial killings, a result of the all-out drug war.
The stunning survey result came from Gallup International in November this year, showing that the Philippines is among the safest countries in the world. The PNP was quick to respond, saying it hopes public perception on the police could change from bad to good.
Throwback: The poor public perception on the PNP led to a series of transformative programs, from “Oplan Pagbabago” in 1993 to the PNP-ITP (Integrated Transformation Plan), which was in reaction to the findings noted by the United Nations Development Program and the Government of the Philippines (UNDP-GOP) and the PNP Reform Commission Study. The study found the following: low level of professional training, massive human rights abuses, low crime conviction rate, poor technological capability and widespread corruption, all of which summed up to the PNP’s credibility problem.
And then came the supposedly scientific “Peace and Order Agenda for Transformation and Upholding the Rule-of-Law” (PATROL) 2030, still with the intention to address public perception and low credibility of the police organization. Laid out earlier than the Duterte administration, the program seems to have taken a backseat while the PNP enforces its all-out war against illegal drugs.
One of PATROL 2030’s 12 key result areas include the promotion of human rights: “Aimed to promote human rights as a basic value in the conduct of operations and in accordance with the international standards of human rights and policing.”
And, yet, Human Rights Groups has recorded dizzying numbers of extrajudicial killings since 2016. The PNP reveals a more conservative figure, but still revealing a spate of unresolved cases.
The case of Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca shooting point-blank Sonya Gregorio, 52, and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25, in Paniqui, Tarlac, during an altercation strikes yet another blow to the PNP’s efforts to win public perception. Videos of the incident have become viral, and netizens are hardly appeased by statements that the case was an isolated one. Clearly, it had hurt the PNP’s credibility in a terrible way, helped by Nuezca’s records of past administrative cases in relation to alleged murders.
If anything, it leads the public into questioning about the fate of its promised internal cleansing and, yes, ultimately, on PATROL 2030.