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High time to give PNP-CIDG subpoena powers

  • Written by Alfred P. Dalizon
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 240

Crame files

AS the primary investigation arm of the Philippine National Police, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group will surely and effectively boost its effort in preventing, suppressing and investigating crime particularly those involving Enemies of the State and major embezzlers once it is finally given its subpoena powers.

Lawmakers led by former PNP chief-turned Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson actually want to give the PNP-CIDG director and his deputy the power to issue subpoenas on cases under investigation, obviously because Lacson knows the difficulty being encountered by the CIDG in investigating major cases in the country. Did you know that at present, the PNP-CIDG can only ‘invite a person of interest’ in any investigation but that invitation can be honored or not.

Sen. Lacson had recalled that when the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police were merged to establish the current PNP under Republic Act 6975, or the “DILG Act of 1990,” most of the powers due to the agency were carried over except, for the subpoena powers.

The former PNP chief-turned-lawmaker said it is absurd that the Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU), now known as the CIDG, with a mandate to undertake monitoring, investigation and prosecution of all crimes, has lost its subpoena powers making it very difficult for the unit to procure documents and witnesses particularly in cases of major crimes, terrorism, high-tech fraud, embezzlement and corruption involving public officials.

He added that this makes it difficult for the PNP’s investigative arm to complete a thorough investigation with the removal of its subpoena powers. Without the subpoena powers, he pointed out, investigations would be incomplete and government resources would be wasted.
    
He’s speaking from experience. When he was the PNP chief, the CIDG under him and headed by his ‘mistah’ from PMA Class1971, my friend Gen. Francisco ‘Twiggy’ Zubia also suffered the same predicament which is now being suffered by another friend way back when he was still a young officer, CIDG chief, Director Roel Obusan.
    
I’m close to Obusan, a classmate from PMA Class 1986 of PNP chief, Gen. Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa because we are both close to a common friend, his classmate and former Highway Patrol Group colleague, the brave lawyer-former Senior Supt. Eleuterio Gutierrez whose brilliant career was ended by a bullet that shattered his brain during the infamous December 2008 shootout in Parañaque City which left 12 heavily-armed robbers –they were armed with automatic rifles and grenades—and one policeman dead. If not for that incident, Gutierrez could be a 2-star general right now.
    
Lawmakers also agree that there is “every reason to grant such authority to the PNP Chief who has control and supervision over lower-ranked officials, like the director and the deputy director of the CIDG.”  Sen. Lacson believes that the subpoena powers should be limited only to the PNP Chief, the CIDG director and deputy director and that the said powers may not be delegated to other officers.
    
Aside from the courts, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, National Police Commission, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Cybercrime Operation Center of the Cybercrime Investigation Coordination Center are authorized to issue subpoena.
    
By the way, let me congratulate Obusan and his men for silently waging a war on criminality particularly against motorcycle-riding robbers and assassins, elusive wanted persons and loose firearms and partisan armed groups in the country. I heard that the CIDG is also behind almost nearly half of the PNP accomplishments in the campaign against illegal guns and other deadly weapons this year.
    
Many CIDG special units and regional offices are actually hauling most wanted persons to jail and accounting for illegal guns, explosives and other weapons on a daily basis but these feats are not being widely reported in the press.
    
Of special mention is the CIDG National Capital Region headed by a lawyer-product of PNP Academy, Senior Superintendent Wilson Asueta. Under Asueta, the five CIDG-NCR field offices have silently but effectively accounted for most wanted Abu Sayyaf and New People’s Army personalities as well as other wanted criminals who have sown terror in the streets or victimized innocent women and kids in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
    
Last Tuesday, Asueta’s men from the CIDG Quezon City Field Office headed by Chief Inspector Garman Manabat captured one of Romblon province’s most wanted after five years of hiding in the metropolis. A tip from an informant led the CIDG-Q.C. to the whereabouts of Dionisio Gonzales, a 61-year-old farmer from Sitio Sinabaan, Barangay Budiong in Odiongan, Romblon who is the subject of a warrant of arrest for a non-bailable rape.
    
A fellow basketball player, Manabat told me that the suspect fled Romblon in 2012 and hid in different parts of Metro Manila after a warrant of arrest for rape with no bail recommended was issued against him by Judge Jose Madrid of the Odiongan Regional Trial Court Branch 82 on December 19, 2012
    
Manabat said that last month, they got the information that Gonzales is frequenting Banawe, Q.C. with some friends who are involved in the theft of side mirrors and other car and SUV accessories in Q.C. and other parts of Manila.
    
In coordination with the Q.C. District Special Operations Unit under Chief Supt. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar and the Romblon Provincial Intelligence Branch, the Q.C.-CIDG operatives arrested the elusive suspect along BMA Street in Banawe around 2 p.m. Tuesday.
    
This case may sound ordinary to many but it’s actually extraordinary for the victim ofGonzales and her family.  Accomplishments like this also help bring back the public’s trust and confidence to the police.  Besides, it would also give the CIDG and the QCPD valuable information on the notorious ‘Side Mirror Baklas Gang’ based in Banawe and responsible for the theft of side mirrors, spare tires and other accessories of unattended cars in the area and other parts of Q.C. and Manila.