POLICE and military personnel cannot bank on the President’s promise that he will pardon them if they get charged for doing their jobs because there is no certainty that they will be convicted under his term, Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Thursday.
Lacson said the President’s statement may encourage some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to kill suspected criminals.
“If they will believe that they can be granted pardon within the term of the President, they might be encouraged. But if I were a policeman now, I would not take the risk. I’ll comply with the law,” the senator said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday vowed to protect members of the police and military who will be charged and convicted in the performance of their duties particularly in the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the government.
Duterte made the pronouncement a week after operatives of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group led by Supt. Marvin Marcos were ordered arrested in connection with the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
Espinosa and another inmate were killed inside their cell in Baybay, Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail by Marcos’ group that raided the facility on November 4.
“Now they have been charged with murder. I will support them. No problem,” the President added.
But Lacson said that it takes years before a final conviction is affirmed by the Supreme Court (SC).
Senator Grace Poe said the statement of Duterte was “unfortunate,” saying it could dampen the enthusiasm and zeal of those in the other pillars of the judicial system to pursue the cases against erring police officers knowing that they would be pardoned.
“It could send a wrong signal to law enforcers that while they may be enforcing legal orders from their superiors, they could altogether ignore the rule of law in properly carrying out such orders knowing that pardon awaits them,” she added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said the President’s statement props up the government’s war on drugs.
“It is anathema to the pursuit of justice; it gives a free pass to impunity,” she said.
Hontiveros added that it would be best if the President stopped making statements that could influence the outcome of cases.