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Cayetano: don't waste time on investigation, focus on revitalizing police force
 
Thursday (August 11) - Senator Alan Peter Cayetano urged his colleagues at the Senate to focus on discussing initiatives that would strengthen the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s ability to combat crime, instead of subjecting the police force to an investigation and accusing them of causing a spate of extrajudicial killings through their anti-drug campaign.
 
In an ambush interview following the Committee on Justice's executive meeting on the recent drug-related executions in the country, Cayetano refuted De Lima’s accusations against PNP officials, who are in the frontline of ongoing government operations to hunt down illegal drug suspects.
 
“We have to be responsible dito sa Senado because whatever we do here will send a message. Hindi takot ang pulis. Tapos gusto nating gamitin ang hearing para takutin sila? Hindi yata ayos ‘yun,” the senator stressed.
 
Although Cayetano agreed that the government should not turn a blind eye to extrajudicial killings, he said the former justice secretary should refrain from making sweeping statements and blaming police officials without clear evidence.
 
“Ang nasa dyaryo at TV ngayon, panay extrajudicial killings. Bakit noong panahon ni Aquino, panahon ni Arroyo, ang tawag lang diyan ay murder o kaya homicide? Bakit ngayon automatically these are extrajudicial or summary killings? But if you compare the numbers, you will see na ang ganitong klaseng patayan ay na-experience na natin before. These are usually the things that we sort out bago tayo mag-hearing so it doesn’t send a negative impact sa ating mga law enforcer,” he said.
 
The senator also questioned the timing of the investigation, noting that the Senate should instead focus on discussing important measures that would fortify and revitalize the country’s police force and strengthen the government’s fight against crime and illegal drugs.
 
“We’re winning the war on drugs, magiging tahimik na ang ating mga kalye. Bakit ang unang-una mong ihi-hearing ay sasabihin mong may maling ginagawa ang mga pulis kahit na wala pang pruweba,” Cayetano said.
 
 â€œRight now we have to look at what our priorities are… Napakaraming kailangan ng police ngayon para maging successful ang ating anti-drug campaign. Napakaraming bills, ang Whistleblowers’ Act, ang pagpapatibay ng Witness Protection Act, ang pag-aayos ng Bilibid prison, ang pagdagdag ng mga drug courts. Bakit hindi ang mga ito ang unahin?”
 
Among the measures that Cayetano wants his fellow senators to prioritize is the proposal to increase the salary and other benefits of PNP officials.
 
He earlier lamented that police personnel in the country do not receive adequate compensation despite the risk to their lives brought by their profession. He said a significant increase in the police force’s salary and benefits would uplift their morale and attract the best and the brightest young individuals to join the PNP.
 
Cayetano for his part filed Senate Bill No. 71, also known as the Philippine National Police Compensation Act of 2016, at the beginning of the 17th Congress. It aims to increase the minimum base pay and allowances of PNP personnel, allowing the lowest ranking police officer to receive a gross minimum pay of P50,530 per month, inclusive of benefits and allowances.

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