MANILA - A Philippine National Police spokesman on Friday denied the national police force is treating erring police officers with kid gloves after sending two cops to battle-scarred Marawi after they were caught on video abusing a civilian.
In a text message, PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos criticized international watchdog Human Rights Watch for saying that policemen implicated in the torture of criminal suspects are merely reassigned and given anger management training.
"For the record and for the information of HRW officials, the 2 cops are facing administrative charges for their misconduct and not simply transferred to another assignment. Erring cops do not get 'kid gloves treatment' but are subjected to the established disciplinary procedures," Carlos told ABS-CBN News.
He added: "Erring cops undergo investigation by [Internal Affairs Service], properly charged (administratively and/or criminally), may be removed from position, transferred or placed in an admin holding unit so as not to undue influence the conduct of investigation, and accorded due process."
"I hope the HRW is now informed and enlightened so that they can come up with better and informed statement, conclusion or assessment of the incident."
In a statement, HRW Asia Division researcher Carlos Conde said police leadership missed the point when it reassigned two cops who were caught on video in an incident of abuse in Mandaluyong.
The viral video showed Police Officer 1 Jose Tandog hitting a detained man with a rattan stick inside a police station for allegedly drinking violating curfew. The video also showed Tandog drawing his firearm and threatening to shoot the civilian. PO1 Chito Enriquez, who was present, did not stop Tandog.
In its statement, HRW said reassigning erring police officers to more dangerous assignments while senior officers, who are likely aware of the abuses, go unscathed fails to address "the systemic nature of police torture."
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier opposed the PNP's decision to punish erring cops by sending them to Marawi.
"They should send the best people here because we need the good people to come here and fight this war. We do not need 'yung patapon dito kasi anong gagawin nun dun?" Lorenzana said in a press briefing in Marawi City.
Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman of the provincial crisis management committee, also questioned the move.
"What they need is to face accountability not temporary punishment. It's quite offensive to treat us like trash bin for abusive cops," Adiong said in a series of tweets.
"Hindi po tayo dito basurahan para sa mga abusado at tiwaling pulis ng Metro Manila."
However, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa stood by his decision, saying there is nothing wrong with re-assigning these erring police officers to the battle in Marawi.
"Ayaw ba nila na madagdagan sila ng tao dito? Give them a chance to reform themselves. I don't think may masama doon," Dela Rosa told reporters on Tuesday.
HRW, which had been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, said the "murderous" anti-narcotics drive "has only deepened the lack of accountability for police abuses by providing not only encouragement of serious abuses, but the promise of official protection for murder and other crimes."
"Until the Philippine National Police ensures genuine accountability within its ranks, police abuses will continue unabated," it said.
Official data from the Philippine National Police pegs the total number of homicide cases since Duterte came into power at 9,432.
Of this number, 1,847 are said to be drug-related, while 1,894 are not. The remaining 5,691, approximately 60 percent of the total figure, are still under investigation.