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Degamo's widow wants change to PNP protocol vs. presenting suspects

Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, widow of slain Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, on Wednesday said it is time to amend the long-standing policy of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the non-presentation of suspects before the public.

During the continuation of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs hearing on the killing of Gov. Degamo, Mayor Degamo said the protocol must be amended through legislation.

"Because in the name of fairness… pag aso nga nawawala we can take pictures of the dog, post it over 'yung mga area kung saan dapat makita at mahanap natin yung aso," she said.

"But this time, especially since it involves a PNP officer, I think it is high time that that protocol… has to change in the name of fairness," she added.

Degamo said she remembered former Dumaguete Police chief Police Colonel Ramoncelio Sawan explaining to the public why they could not present to the public the photos of her husband's alleged gunman, Noel Alabata, a police officer.

"Because all other suspects, you can easily see their faces on TV, mugshots displayed over the newspaper. But how come this man, this very person, Colonel Sawan, tried to explain that they cannot show the face of the man," she said.

For his part, Sawan said the PNP has a policy against parading suspects. He also said there is no "tactical or strategic" value in showing the suspect's face since he is already under custody.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, the committee's chairman and a former national police chief, said he will look into Mayor Degamo's suggestion.

"Baka puwede natin kausapin 'yung Napolcom (National Police Commission) na baguhin ‘yung mga protocols na 'yan, 'yung mga memorandum circulars covering that issue," he said.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, meanwhile, said there is no need for legislation as the incumbent chief of the PNP may establish the organization's rules.

"Because when I was mayor of San Juan, I used to parade the pictures of all the suspects of heinous crimes at wala naman akong naging kaso sa human rights. So siguro nararapat-dapat lang na mangagaling na sana sa hierarcy ng PNP," he said. —KBK, GMA Integrated News