The Department of Justice on Monday vowed to build a database of police officers or military personnel who were dismissed or went absent without leave.
“So that if ever they will be part of any security forces, they should have good identification and they will have clearances. We’re building everything we can,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said, in an interview.
Remulla said the need for such a database became apparent after the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.
Degamo and five others were killed in the attack. The death toll went up to nine the following day as those who were seriously wounded died.
Thirteen others were seriously injured in the shooting.
Meanwhile, the DOJ said it has been asked to prosecute eight police officers in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat for murder and other criminal charges, in connection with their involvement in the alleged shootout that left three teenage boys dead last December.
Named respondents in the complaints filed by the parents of the victims were Lambayong police chief Police Major (PMAJ) Jenahmeel Tonaco, Police Senior Master Sergeant (PSMS) Syril Mahaddi, Police Corporal (PCpl) Elpedio Garlit, PCpl Joffrey Apalla, patrolmen Nicol Dion Toreja, Basser Mako, Mario Rombaoa Jr., and Roldan Claveria.
The respondents were all assigned at the Lambayong Municipal Police Station.
On Monday, the Philippine National Police also launched its digital booking system or “e-booking” to facilitate easy access to crime data as part of efforts to modernize crime solution operations.
Under the system, the police force would fully digitalize the booking process of arrested persons which makes the collection and cross-matching of fingerprints through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) faster and more efficient.
PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said police investigators and intelligence operatives will now have easy access to the data storage system which covers arrested law offenders across the country.
“For many years, the PNP had been manually collecting information of arrested persons, but because of this initiative to deliver efficient and timely investigation service, the DIDM (Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management created this system that will fully digitalize the booking process of arrested persons,” said Azurin during the system’s launch in Camp Crame.
The booking procedures include getting the fingerprint and taking photos of the arrested offenders.
Three suspects in the Degamo slay were arrested during a hot pursuit operation in Bayawan City on March 4, while one other suspect died in an alleged encounter with authorities in the province. Another suspect was arrested on March 5.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar earlier said arrested suspects in the killing of Degamo were former Army personnel who were discharged.
Joven Javier was a former sergeant assigned to the Light Reaction Unit of the AFP and trained for counterterrorism while Joric Labrador was a former sergeant who served in the intelligence battalion.
Benjie Rodriguez was a former corporal and has been assigned to 35th Infantry Battalion, Aguilar added.
Charges have been filed against them.
“Through this, the collection and cross-matching of fingerprints will now be faster and more efficient. This will further increase the crime solution efficiency of the Philippine National Police. I commend the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management – through the leadership of Police Major General Eliseo DC Cruz, for being one of the paragons of excellence in the organization,” said Azurin.
Cruz, meanwhile, said the system would greatly ease the work of police officers assigned to process crime scenes.
“So when they lift fingerprints from the crime scene, immediately they will compare it with the database of the AFIS. The (PNP) Forensic Group said in one minute, it can easily determine whose fingerprint was obtained at the crime scene. This is how effective the system is,” he told reporters.
Remulla, meanwhile, highlighted the importance of fostering a strong partnership between the PNP and the DOJ.
“The Department of Justice and Philippine National Police should always stand side by side, hand in hand in battling the enemies of the state, especially those who commit crimes and violate our penal laws,” Remulla said.
Apart from murder, the Sultan Kudarat policemen were also charged with planting of evidence, falsification of documents, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and irregularity in the performance of duty.
The complaint was filed before the National Prosecution Service (NPS) of the DOJ by the parents of the three victims, identified as Samanoden Mustapha, Horton Ansa, Jr., and Arshad Tingao, through the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Lawyer Ronald Hallid Torres, who represents the parents of the victims, said that the claim of the Philippine National Police-Lambayong that the victims engaged their policemen in a shootout was not true.
“The PNP alleges that there was a shootout, but based on the documents that we have, they were shot,” Torres said, in an interview with Justice reporters.
Based on reports, the three teenagers who were aboard a motorcycle ignored a police checkpoint in Barangay Didtaras, Lambayong on Dec. 1, prompting the police officers to chase them.