LOOK: Human rights cops watch over SONA 2018 protests

Rambo Talabong

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LOOK: Human rights cops watch over SONA 2018 protests
These cops will keep an eye out for rights violations by their colleagues

MANILA, Philippines – Not all the cops deployed for President Rodrigo Duterte’s 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) will just watch out for security threats. Some will police their fellow cops.

On Monday, July 23, the Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed human rights cops to keep an eye out for rights violations by their colleagues.

While standing with fellow cops, they stand out with their neon green vests bearing the words “human rights officer” in block letters.

While they have already been trained by the police’s Human Rights Affairs Office, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said they were also given reminders by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Gwen Pimentel Gana on Sunday, July 22.

“Anytime din kung merong reklamo ang mga kababayan natin, puwede din silang lumapit sa human rights officers na ‘yun (If our countrymen have complaints, they can go to those human rights officers),” Albayalde told reporters as he was doing rounds and checking on the PNP’s over 6,000-strong deployment.

Cops are complemented by personnel from the CHR, which is mandated by the Constitution to stand as the watchdog for abuses committed by state actors like cops and soldiers.

CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia told Rappler in a text message that they will be sending “close to 40 investigators and lawyers” to monitor demonstrations.

No major violent incidents were reported in the 2017 SONA demonstrations, with only Duterte’s chat with protesters considered the biggest surprise for security forces.

Just like last year, frontline cops on Monday were not allowed to carry shields, batons, or firearms as they face protesters. – Rappler.com 

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.