PNP to deploy ‘human rights officers’ to Batasang Pambansa for SONA

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2019 08:00 PM | Updated as of Jul 19 2019 11:42 PM

MANILA—The Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy "human rights officers" to the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City on Monday to ensure peace and security in the vicinity, as President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Police Brig. Gen. Dennis Siervo, head of PNP-Human Rights Affairs Office (HRAO), on Friday said about 50 officers will be assigned at the venue to observe and mediate during police conflicts with demonstrators if needed.

Siervo assured that police will strictly follow operational procedures, especially the conduct by which SONA security was handled before.

“CDM (civil disturbance management) personnel at pulis natin [ay] magkakaroon ng briefing at debriefing ng advisory ng human rights prior to the deployment then after the deployment," said Siervo.

Just like last year's SONA, HRAO personnel will wear green neon vests with “human rights officers” printed as labels.

"They should wear proper CDM uniform and equipment. Nakasuot ng human rights officers ng vest. Sila ang magme-mediate kung may mga gulo between the rallyists and the state forces tulad sa amin," said Siervo.

Police Col. Joel Usman, division chief of PNP-HRAO, said his office conducts annual human rights training for their officers.

"Dapat talagang makita sa mga personnel, every year nag-ko-conduct kami ng seminar sa human rights, ’yon ang tinitingnan namin kung na-a-absorb ba nila. Kung meron kaming nakitang pagkukulang, doon pa lang iko-correct namin," Usman said.

The PNP-HRAO said the patience of policemen will be tested when rallyists become unruly and violent, saying they are taught to exercise maximum tolerance during tense scenarios.

"Halimbawa, leader ka ng CDM, ikaw ang may authority sa ground, kung minsan may pang-aabuso, sisigawan nila ang mga civilians. Pagpalo ng sobra-sobra, halimbawa nagkaroon ng gulo," said Usman.

" ’Yung maximum tolerance ma-observe talaga dapat sa ground."

The PNP-HRAO urged the public to report to its officers any rights violations committed by police officers deployed during the SONA.