IN the wake of infractions being committed by some policemen in going after criminals, investigating cases, handling of evidence, prosecuting law offenders, ignoring the ban on the use of warning shots and even in the transport of detainees, members of the 160,000-strong Philippine National Police have been directed anew to know the revised Police Operational Procedures literally by heart.
The PNP leadership headed by Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa said there is a need for police officers and men to memorize the revised PNP-POP since it now serves as their ‘Bible’ in the conduct of day-to-day operations with the protection of human rights an utmost concern. The police ‘Bible’ is also needed in investigating and preserving a crime scene by keeping it off-limits to unauthorized persons including members of the media and the so-called ‘Uziseros.’
The Manual 2013 Edition of the PNP Police Operational Procedures includes provisions on the Critical Incident Management Operational Procedures, Crisis Escalation, Crime Incident Reporting system and Unit Crime Periodic Report.
The ‘Bible’ includes general principles on the functions of a police officer who should observe human rights and dignity of every person, the use of police uniform, procedures in the conduct of police operations, use of force and firearms during operations, procedures in the conduct of spot checks/accosting and pat-down searches, checkpoints, arrests, investigation, search and seizure, maintenance of police blotter, the Unit Crime Periodic Report or UCPER, policies, rules and procedures in the conduct of crime scene investigation, labor disputes, rallies and demonstrations and demolition and ejectment orders and hostage situations.
The PNP operations manual also bans the use of warning shots. It says that in the event that checkpoints/roadblocks are ignored and the motorists/suspects bump the roadblock in an attempt to elude arrest or avoid inspection, the Team Leader shall immediately contact adjacent units to inform them of the situation so that these units can conduct dragnet operation or police defensive roadblock, while the members of the blocking/pursuing team shall block or pursue the errant fleeing motorist.
The manual also says that ‘Warning shots shall not be allowed due to the confusion it may create for the driver and passengers of the vehicle. Megaphones or police sirens shall be used instead during the pursuit. The plate number of the vehicle shall be noted and given to other units in adjacent areas to prevent the possibility that the vehicle may elude the pursuit operation; and in the event that the occupants of the vehicle open fire on the personnel manning the checkpoint, reasonable force to overcome the suspects’ aggression may be used.
The following are also standard police procedures: First, warning by use of megaphones. It says that during actual police intervention operations, if feasible, the team leader shall use all peaceful means, including the use of megaphone or any other similar means, to influence/warn the offenders/suspects to stop and/or peacefully give up.
Second, it says that ‘the police shall not use warning shots during any police intervention.’ Third, ‘excessive use of force shall be avoided.’ The rule says that ‘the use of firearm is justifiable by virtue of the Doctrines of Self-Defense, Defense of Relative, and Defense of Stranger, and if the police have probable cause to believe that the suspect poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the police or other persons.
Lastly, during an armed confrontation, ‘the police may use reasonable force to overcome the threat posed by the suspect. However, the Officer-in-Charge of the operation shall at all times exercise control over his men in the area, and shall ensure that no innocent civilian is caught in the crossfire.’
The PNP Directorate for Operations now headed by Chief Superintendent Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, said that to ensure that all policemen will know the guidelines and policies contained in the manual and at the same time save on the cost of printing, they have designed a web-based program called Webinar which can be accessed by the police.