MANILA — A lawmaker on Friday questioned the Philippine National Police (PNP) on allegations that the Orion Municipal Police did not cooperate in the search for two environmental activists who went missing early this month.
The confrontation happened during the plenary debates at the House of Representatives on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and its attached agencies.
ACT Teachers Party List Representative France Castro said the mother of Jonila Castro reported that she sought the help of police in looking for her daughter four days after she went missing.
But Rose Castro claimed that instead of getting help, the police delayed the release of the blotter report.
Rose added that they were not notified when Jonila was already in police custody, and they only found out about it during the press conference last Tuesday.
Castro and fellow environmental activist Jhed Tamano, whom authorities said last week had surrendered to the military, told a government-organized press conference that they were abducted by the military and coerced into signing affidavits.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines denied the allegation, and is eyeing perjury charges against the activists.
“Dapat responsibilidad ng pulis na tumulong sa mga taong humihingi sa kanila ng tulong kung may nangyayaring ganitong kriminalidad,” Castro said.
The police denied the allegation, saying they assisted in searching for then missing activists.
“The PNP personnel of Orion Police Station, when they learned about this, talagang nag-ano rin sila, hanggang sa mga CCTV, kung saan ang suspected na ruta na mapupuntuhan nitong kung sino man ang nag-abduct sa mga ito. Ang ating kapulisan ay tumulong din sa case sa Orion. Nakita pa nila sa CCTV footages, may gray Toyota Innova na nandyan... Later on, according to our PNP, nag-surface naman daw po ang mga bata,” DILG’s budget sponsor Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma said.
PNP BODY CAMS
Meanwhile, ABANG LINGOD Party List Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano called for additional funding to procure more body cameras for the PNP, noting it would help prevent abuses during police operations.
Under the proposed 2024 budget, P66 million is allocated for the purchase of 2,001 body cameras for the PNP at an estimated P33,000 per unit.
The police currently has on hand 2,756 body cameras, but it needs at least 45,000.
“The PNP needs the budget for body-worn cameras to deter such violations with regards to operations. Most, if not all (cases), being investigated in the House, without CCTV cameras, hindi mapi-pindown ‘yung mga scalawag na police officers,” Paduano said.
The House of Representatives terminated on Friday the plenary debates on DILG’s proposed 2024 budget.