Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is pushing for a basic law enforcement training program to police auxiliary units (PAUs) in all barangays nationwide, including rules of proper engagement, citizen’s arrest, first aid, and respect for human rights.
De Lima underscored the importance of a basic training program that would teach barangay civilian volunteers about their important role in keeping the peace and order situation in their respective communities.
“There is a need to establish a program to be implemented throughout the country to give basic law enforcement training to barangay-level PAUs,” she said in Senate Resolution No. 591 she filed.
De Lima cited recent incidents where barangay tanods (watchmen) were actively involved in purely police operations or were caught possessing illegal firearms, while others were apprehended either for illegal drugs operation or vigilante-type killing spree.
Last Dec. 30, she recalled, a group of policemen and barangay tanods had opened fire on wrong vehicle and killed two unarmed individuals at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Old Wack Wack Road, Bgy. Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City.
“Local chief executives should make sure that barangay elective officials and force multipliers are accountable for their actions and fulfil their mandate without violating the human rights of their constituents,” she pointed out.
Under her proposed resolution, the former justice secretary said there is a need to assess the role of elective barangay officials and the supervision of barangay civilian volunteers and force multipliers in keeping peace and order situation in communities.
De Lima explained that since the barangay is the basic political unit, these barangay tanods who are deputized as PAUs should be held accountable for any abuse of power and should be dealt with according to laws.
“It is the burden of all state-sanctioned forces, including PAUs, to carry out their mandate in accordance with the rule of law and while respecting human rights,” she said.
She said she wants the appropriate Senate committee to review existing local peace and order mechanisms set in place in order to determine their effectiveness in addressing the needs of the communities and in holding erring local officials accountable.
To effectively protect people in the communities from any forms of abuses, De Lima said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) should cooperate with elective barangay officials and the barangay civilian volunteers.
De Lima added that the PNP and DILG are expected to keep their partnership with civilian volunteer organizations faithful in establishing a “lasting relationship based on mutual respect, trust and confidence between the PNP and the community.”
“By promoting justice and peace without disregarding the rule of law, our authorities, especially the police officers, can also expect to regain the trust of the people that they serve – the Filipino people,” she said.