No need for CHR, Ombudsman to secure Duterte’s permission to probe cops, soldiers

MANILA, July -- MalacaAang on Monday clarified that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Office of the Ombudsman need not get prior permission from President Rodrigo Duterte before investigating military or police officers.

In a Palace briefing, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the CHR and the Office of the Ombudsman are both created under the Constitution and are supposed to be independent.

They have to do their own mandates. When the President said that he'd be informed if any soldier or law enforcer will be undergoing any investigation, I presume he was speaking as Commander-in-Chief and not as Chief Executive, the Palace official said.

In a press conference after his second State of the Nation Address last week, Duterte said that he would not allow his security forces to go to the CHR to be investigated for alleged human rights violations.

Human Rights Commission, you address your request through me because the Armed Forces is under me and the police is under me. Kaya pag kinuwestyon ninyo sila for investigation, dadaan muna sa akin," the President said.

Guevarra explained that what the President meant was that as Commander-in-Chief, it would be a lot better he is informed about an investigation of a law enforcer or a soldier under his command.

That's how I understand the President's statement. He is a lawyer. He is a prosecutor. He knows criminal law, criminal procedure very well, and he knows the limits of what he can do and what he can't, he said.

As I said, he is also a lawyer and he knows that these other agencies have their own mandates, have their own procedures. So they are free to do what they want to do in accordance with their own mandates, Guevarra said.

Guevarra made the clarification after the CHR said it would investigate the police's pre-dawn raid on the house of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parajinog that resulted in the death of the mayor and 14 others.

According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), the 15 were killed in a shootout between the mayor's security team and police serving search warrants at several of the Parojinog family's properties in Barangays Baybay San Roque and Baybay Santa Cruz of the city at around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

As to the claims that the police operation was an overkill and tainted with irregularity, Guevarra pointed out that people claim that human rights violations were committed especially in police raids that result in deaths.

Well, that is bound to happen in incidents like these, when raids result in deaths. This usually happens, he said.

However, the Palace official said that normal procedures and the normal investigative procedures will have to be observed if there is any claim of improper implementation of the search warrant.

This matter will have to be investigated, if there are allegations on using unnecessary force, rub out or something this will have to be investigated, these are police matters. The police would have to take care of that, he said.

But at present, he said MalacaAang would presume that there is "regularity' in the police raid.

"There is a presumption of regularity. If there is someone that complains that something irregular happened then an investigation will have to be done. For now, we presume regularity," Guevarra said.

Source: Philippine News Agency