By By Atty. Romulo P. Atencia
Police Abuses
posted 11-Jul-2015  ·  
4,861 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

False evidence, fabricated evidence, forged evidence or tainted evidence is information created or obtained illegally, to sway the verdict in a court case. In Britain, falsifying evidence to convict the guilty is known as “Noble Cause Corruption”. Some evidence is forged because the person doing the forensic work finds it easier to fabricate evidence than to perform the actual work involved. A "throw down", i.e. the planting of a weapon at a crime scene would be used by the police to justify shooting the victim in self-defense, and avoid possible prosecution for murder or homicide. 

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Indeed, Police misconduct statistics are hard to come by because the government does not regularly collect data. In the United States, a scandal involving planting of evidence by the police became known when Trooper David L. Harding was interviewed for a job at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He was asked if he was willing to break the law for his country. He answered "yes", then explained how he worked to convict people he felt sure were guilty by fabricating evidence. He assumed the CIA would be pleased with his answer, but instead they notified the United States Department of Justice, though there was a 14-month delay before this discovery was relayed to New York State Police officials.

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In the Philippines, the concern with narrowing the window of opportunity for tampering with evidence found legislative expression in Section 21 (1) of RA 9165 on the inventory of seized dangerous drugs and paraphernalia by putting in place a three-tiered requirement on the time, witnesses, and proof of inventory by imposing on the apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs the duty to “immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof”. 

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Earlier, NAPOLCOM Memorandum Circular No. 92-006 promulgated on August 6, 1992  pursuant to RA 6975  or the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, prescribes the rules and regulations in the conduct of summary dismissal proceedings against erring PNP members and defines conduct unbecoming of a police officer under Section 3(c), Rule II, thereof. The same Memorandum Circular also defines the phrase serious charge as a ground for summary dismissal of PNP members. This includes charges for commission of heinous crimes and those committed by organized/syndicated crime groups wherein PNP members are involved, gunrunning, illegal logging, robbery, kidnapping for ransom, white slave trade, illegal recruitment, carnapping, smuggling, piracy, drug trafficking, falsification of land title and other government forms, large scale swindling, film piracy, counterfeiting, and bank frauds.

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RA 6975 delineates the procedural framework in pursuing administrative complaints against erring members of the police organization. Section 41 of the law enumerates the authorities to which a complaint against an erring member of the PNP may be filed, thus; Section 41. (a) Citizens Complaints. Any complaint by an individual person against any member of the PNP shall be brought before the following: (1) Chiefs of police, where the offense is punishable by withholding of privileges, restriction to specified limits, suspension or forfeiture of salary, or any combination thereof, for a period not exceeding fifteen (15) days; (2) Mayors of cities or municipalities, where the offense is punishable by withholding of privileges, restriction to specified limits, suspension or forfeiture of salary, or any combination thereof, for a period of not less than sixteen (16) days but not exceeding thirty (30) days; (3) Peoples Law Enforcement Board, as created under Section 43 hereof, where the offense is punishable by withholding of privileges, restriction to specified limits, suspension or forfeiture of salary, or any combination thereof, for a period exceeding thirty (30) days; or by dismissal. . . .

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Thus, a complaint against a PNP member which would warrant dismissal from service is within the jurisdiction of the PLEB. However, Section 41 should be read in conjunction with Section 42 of the same statute which reads, thus: Sec. 42. Summary Dismissal Powers of the PNP Chief and Regional Directors. - The Chief of the PNP and regional directors, after due notice and summary hearings, may immediately remove or dismiss any respondent PNP member in any of the following cases: (a) When the charge is serious and the evidence of guilt is strong; (b) When the respondent is a recidivist or has been repeatedly charged and there are reasonable grounds to believe that he is guilty of the charges; and (c) When the respondent is guilty of conduct unbecoming of a police officer. As seen, the power to dismiss PNP members is not only the prerogative of PLEB but concurrently exercised by the PNP Chief and regional directors. Moreover, once a complaint is filed with any of the disciplining authorities under R.A. No. 6975, the latter shall acquire exclusive original jurisdiction over the case although other disciplining authority has concurrent jurisdiction over the case. Paragraph (c) of Section 41 explicitly declares this point.  Clearly, the PLEB and the PNP Chief and regional directors have concurrent jurisdiction over administrative cases filed against members of the PNP which may warrant dismissal from service.

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CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Ordinary citizens should not allow their supposed protectors, the PNP, to create or obtain evidence illegally to ensure arrest and conviction of persons they are “sure” of having committed an offense. In this jurisdiction, police officers cannot judge a person accused of a crime, in the same way that judges are not supposed to be actively involved in police work. There are existing laws and procedures which the citizen may avail of to rectify the wrong, or to punish the offenders. The use only of properly adduced evidence has been established by the experience  of ages  as the best means of discriminating  truth from  error, and of contracting as far as possible the  dangerous power of judicial discretion.

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