I am not undermining the police capability in handling criminal investigations. But sloppy police investigation led to the dismissal of cases at the prosecutor’s office and in the court. Worse, no progress in their investigations and no cases will be filed at all. But we cannot solely blame the police in criminal investigations because there are several factors also to be considered.
Are our police criminal investigators really well trained? Most of our policemen now under the law creating the Philippine National Police (PNP) are graduates of a four-year course and most of them are even Criminology graduates. Most of the officials are graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) and took advanced courses under the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and I believed they took a course on criminal investigation.
Unlike during the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) days when if one could just present a high school diploma, he’d be qualified for training into the police force. Investigators during those days couldn’t even differentiate between a knife and a bolo. “Knife” is very difficult to spell while “bolo” is much easier. So some investigators just wrote on the police blotter or in their investigation report, “The victim was stabbed by the suspect using a bolo” even if the suspect used a knife.
I doubt if some police investigators can differentiate between a homicide and a murder case. The hesitancy of some witnesses to testify despite the offer of placing them under the Witness Protection Program also hampers the progress of investigations and the filing of a case. That is why some of the investigators rely on CCTV camera footage and videos contributed by concerned citizens. Without videos provided to the police, there is no case at all. Case load, a manpower problem and sloth or laziness of investigators also contribute to the delay in solving a crime. I doubt if our investigators, after investigating the crime scene for physical evidence, will reach out to possible witnesses to persuade them to testify or make a followup of the case. For as long as they can already file a “spot report” for their superiors, that’s it. No more followups.
Other hindrances are on collecting and preserving evidences at the crime scene. The ability of investigators to collect evidence may also be limited if, by collecting one type of evidence, they must compromise another. For example, swabbing a knife found near the victim at a murder scene for blood or DNA could potentially destroy latent fingerprints present on the knife. Examination of forensic evidences, such as ballistic and paraffin tests, will also take too long. Some are even sent to Camp Crame first for further examination because our local police lack the technical expertise.
Investigators have the duty to preserve certain types of evidence collected during criminal investigations and prosecutions. This duty exists in order to protect a defendant’s right to due process and a fair trial. The duty to preserve evidence begins once any state agency gathers and takes possession of evidence as part of a criminal investigation.
We cannot also discount the possibility of corruption in police investigations. Investigators allegedly accept bribe and grease money to suppress evidences to favor individuals involved in the crime. Remember the Visconde massacre case? Wasn’t it a police investigator who ordered all the evidences in the crime scene burned? In the suicide of late the RTC Judge Martin Ocampo in a posh hotel in Mactan, investigators mishandled the custody of evidences. They flushed the toilet bowl, took the ballpen and handled the gun without using gloves. A cop even lied down on the hotel room bed that Ocampo used.
What happened to some of the recent high-profile cases investigated by our local police? Nothing. If the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) did not come into the picture, do you think we can have a progress on the murder of lawyer Joey Wee? At the initial phase of the investigation, police claimed that they already have a person of interest and a possible suspect. But what’s the latest news on the police side? What happened to the case of Mayor David Navarro of Clarin, Misamis Occidental, who was killed here while escorted by the police to the prosecutor’s office last October? What happened to the murder cases of their colleagues who were gunned down by still unknown assailants like the cases of retired Col. Eduardo Saavedra, Maj. Delfin Bontuyan, retired policeman Bernie Jungco and PDEA agent Earl Rallos? They never conducted any investigation on those cases because the victims were presumed to be involved in shenanigans? Or because those were allegedly government-sponsored killings? That is unfair.
Now, here’s the killing of Ritchie Nepomuceno, whom police tagged as involved in the illegal drug trade. I doubt if the police can come up with a solution to the case. Never mind. Anyway, she was involved in illegal drugs, they could be saying. And what about the alleged suicide of SSgt. Celso Colita? Never mind also. Anyway, he committed suicide. Mao nay giingon nga ang ubang kaso nga giimbestigagan sa police, nangahulog sa bung-aw ug dayon natunaw.