With only over a thousand personnel in its ranks, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) looks like a puny compared to the scandal-ridden Philippine National Police (PNP). Still, public trust on this undermanned agency has not affected its resolve to perform honorably.
For decades, the NBI has always played a secondary role in the country’s justice system. The function to investigate crimes belongs to the PNP, and that the best crime probers belong to the police agency. But the PNP credibility, since 2016, has been pulled down each time a high-profile case has been placed under the NBI’s scrutiny. In recent months, the NBI was called to conduct in-depth probes of the Dacera case, PNP-PDEA shootout, and Calbayog shooting.
The problem with the PNP, sadly, starts at the top. Its highest officer, Gen. Debold Sinas, has been mired in scandals. Take the Dacera case. Wanting to gain publicity from its supposed swift resolution, he promptly called a press conference and told the national TV that the incident was already a ‘closed case.’ That same day, the prosecutors, finding many loopholes in the evidence, chastised the PNP and dumped the case! That was a shame, to say the least.
But the ugliest episode is hearing of cops being linked to illegal drugs, planting of evidence, manhandling and physical abuse, extrajudicial killings, carjacking, illegal raids, hold-ups, daylight snatching of suspects, and other crimes. In 2020 alone, the PNP listed a total of 1,877 unsolved ‘heinous’ and ‘sensational’ crimes. All these happened after the salaries of cops were doubled purportedly to eliminate corruption and improve efficiency in the police force.
PNP’s crisis of credibility has been further magnified by the troubling revelation that since 2016, when the Duterte admin took over, the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) has recorded 61 lawyers, judges, and prosecutors killed. From the Marcos regime to the second Aquino governance, a 35-year period, only 49 attorneys died.
Just recently, the ‘higher PNP offices’ have sought the list of attorneys defending red-tagged individuals and groups from the regional trial courts. Expectedly, the furor raised a loud noise and the Supreme Court, perceived at times as passive, had to act with haste.
Recently, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has reported that as of November 2020 a total of 19 journalist have been killed during the incumbent administration.
That the NBI is now getting the kind of adulation it deserves, it is because public trust on the PNP’s much-doubted ‘protect and serve’ motto has become a focus of jeers.