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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Experts share views on Tarlac killings

Human rights violations are rooted on ignorance of the law

MANILA – One of the probable reasons why policemen in the Philippines violate the basics of Human Rights is their lack of knowledge on the importance of respect for the rule of law.

This was how former Commission on Human Rights chair Prof. Loretta Ann P. Rosales described the current conditions when a number of policemen have been reported to have committed crimes.

“Police Deputy Director General Franklin Bucayu told me the reason why violations of law have been committed because most policemen don’t know the laws they need to observe,” Prof. Rosales said over COFFEE CHAT – a public affairs event aired over Facebook Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Atty. Ramil Gabao, chairperson of the Board of Criminology at the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) said about 30 per cent of the 215,000-strong Philippine National Police (PNP) force are Criminology graduates because the PNP has already accepted other baccalaureate degree holders into its roster.

Atty. Gabao said there is a tedious process for one to get into the police force as the applicant will be subjected to physical and medical exams and should adhere to the basic requirements of height and built. This is on top of the clearances that need to be issued by different government agencies.

“As far as I know, Police MSgt. Jonel Nuezca is not a Criminology graduate,” Atty. Gabao said.

During the same forum, Dr. Bernardino Vicente, former Director of the National Center of Mental Health (NCMH), said neuropsychiatric screening is important because it would determine whether an applicant can withstand pressure.

Dr. Vicente said neuropsychiatric screening usually last for half a day because it involves IQ and projective tests as PNP applicants should be tested for their impulsivity because they would be in possession of deadly weapons.

“The screening hopes to rule out major psychiatric disorder, psychosis, mental retardation, among others,” he further explained. He added such screening may be required for different positions in the police force as other tests would know the applicant’s capacity to decide, solve problems and other responsibilities.

There are agencies which have their own neuropsychiatric screening capabilities.

“They used to send applicants for the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to the National Center for Mental Health and judges have their own screening facility,” Dr. Vicente further said.

He explained the PNO used to partner with the NCMH but now, they send their psychologists to the NCMH for training and they later do the screening at the PNP.

“The problem lies when applicants for potential gun holders are processed by fly-by-night neuropsychiatric clinics where applicants are given a checklist to accomplish and screening results and licenses are released in a matter of hours,” Dr. Vicente said.

The screening lasts for half a day where the exams with pencil and paper tests are analyzed by psychologists and interviewed by psychiatrists and the results are signed by both the psychologist and psychiatrist to be turned over to the requesting agency and definitely not to the applicant.

Nobody fails or pass the exams because the applicants may be found unfit for the position they have applied.

“Should a staff is up for promotion, neuropsychiatric examination may be prepared,” Dr. Vicente explained. He said compulsive liars are also discovered during the screening.

Asked of their views on the Tarlac shooting incidents last Sunday, Dr. Vicente said that was plain violence.

“Outright, from what I saw, it should not have happened. The mother and son had no weapons. The policeman had the weapon and the use of lethal force cannot be justified,” he said.

Atty. Gabao said there can be no excuses nor explanation, legal or otherwise can justice the fatal shooting last Sunday.

Professor Rosales said Human Rights underscores the definition of the rule of law, and that law enforcers should be made to understand the law so they can effectively enforce.

“Laws according to international definition should be publicly promulgated, equally enforced, independently adjudicated and consistent with international norms and standards,” she further said.

As to the headwinds for mental health, Dr. Vicente said there is a limited number of psychologists who get to be psychometricians as there about 600 psychiatrists, nationwide. (Melo M. Acuña)

COFFEE CHAT guests, Prof. Loretta Ann P. Rosales, PRC Board of Criminology chair Atty. Ramil Gabao and former NCMH Director Benny vicente. (Screen grab from Coffee Chat discussions. (Melo M. Acuna)

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