In the Philippines, corruption is one of the most infamous issues among public officers. Foremost of which is the commission of bribery among public officials of the land.
It was revealed in the report on the Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer in 2004 that Filipino Police Officers are the most corrupt sector in our country. Also, according to the Ombudsman’s latest data in 2016, it was revealed that Philippine National Police (PNP) had the most corruption cases.
Public office is a public trust
It is the principle wherein the accountability of public officers is concerned. The Fundamental Law clearly mandates that public officers [police officers included] and or employees must be accountable to the people at all times, regardless of their status in life. They must also serve the people with loyalty, integrity, efficiency, and a sense of responsibility. Moreover, it is also the foundation of due process of law.
Thus, trust is the most essential requisite that the people have been giving to the public officer. In return, they should not abuse the exercise of their public function and duty.
One of the most popular corruptions that police officers are engaged in is extortion. Extortion, as defined, is the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or intimidation to gain money or property from an individual or entity. In accordance with this definition, it may connote the commission of Robbery [with Force and Intimidation] also.
Extortion generally involves a threat being made to the victim’s person or property, or to their family or friends. Administratively, extortion may amount to grave misconduct.
As held by the Supreme Court, misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action. More particularly, it is an unlawful behaviour or gross negligence by the public officer. The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules.
Corruption, as an element of grave misconduct, consists in the act of an official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his position or office to procure some benefit for himself or for another person, contrary to duty and the rights of others.
Also, Direct Bribery is often committed. As mentioned above, this crime is defined as accepting, in connection with the performance of his [public or police officers] official duties, in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present received by such officer, personally or through the mediation of another.
It is one of the common forms of corruption among police officers wherein they enter into an agreement with another person and accept something in exchange for their non-fulfillment or fulfillment of their duties. This is unlawful and contrary to the public interest.
The Supreme Court held in the case of Pozar vs. Court of Appeals, that in the offense of direct bribery, there is an agreement between the public officer and the giver of the gift or present. The offender agrees to perform or performs an act or refrains from doing something because of the gift or promise.
Indirect Bribery may also be wittingly or unwitting committed. In this particular case, no prior agreement is necessary and there is no promise or undertaking to be performed by the public officer. However, mere acceptance of any gifts coming from another person and the said gift or present that has been given to the public officer by reason of the latter’s office are sufficient to commit the felony of indirect bribery.
Effects of Police Corruption
The effect of police corruption affects three (3) major entities.
First, the Philippine National Police itself. “The police must obey the law while enforcing the law.” The integrity of the PNP institution will be affected for the rampant issues in connection with corruption cases. The three major element as reflected in their image – SERVICE, HONOR and JUSTICE will no longer make them honorable.
All of the people entrusted them to do good and to tell the truth even if the truth is ugly. Also, the image of other good officers may be affected for the act of another. If corruption continues, it may weaken their power as agent of person with authority and people may no longer look up to them as person with full integrity in performing their duties.
In their manual, all PNP personnel must know by heart and shall comply with and apply the principles and procedures of serving and protecting life and property. No police operation shall be conducted in order to serve or protect the illegal activity of a particular person, group or criminal syndicate. Also, in observing Human Rights and Dignity of Person.
Second, it affects the State. In Republic Act 6975, “Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990” provides in Section 24 the POWERS AND FUNCTIONS of the Philippine National Police as follows:
(a) Enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the protection of lives and properties;
(b) Maintain peace and order and take all necessary steps to ensure public safety;
(c) Investigate and prevent crimes, effect the arrest of criminal offenders, bring offenders to justice and assist in their prosecution;
(d) Exercise the general powers to make arrest, search and seizure in accordance with the Constitution and pertinent laws;
(e) Detain an arrested person for a period not beyond what is prescribed by law, informing the person so detained of all his rights under the Constitution;
(f) Issue licenses for the possession of firearms and explosives in accordance with law;
(g) Supervise and control the training and operations of security agencies and issue licenses to operate security agencies, and to security guards and private detectives, for the practice of their professions; and
(h) Perform such other duties and exercise all other functions as may be provided by law.
The State itself has given the aforementioned powers and functions to the Philippine National Police, and the same have been granted to them to serve and protect the people of the State. The law obviously mandates them to observe the human rights and dignity of the person.
If corruption exists, the officer prejudices and violates his sworn duty to the State.
Lastly, it affects the people. The constitution provides that The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. The primary functions of every police officer are to serve and protect life and property and to observe the human rights and dignity of the person. Taxes paid by the people were used to provide salaries for every government employee including police officers. Those taxes may go to waste if an employee does not exercise decency in the performance of his duty.
In cases where police officers are involved, the provision in the Constitution must always stand out. The 1987 Constitution mandates in Article XI that public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.
How to somehow fight Police Corruption?
To end corruption, we must promote transparency, accountability, and integrity in all aspects or sectors of the institution.
To fight police corruption, collective effort and responsibility are important. The Government, the Head of the Philippine National Police, and the People themselves must collaborate and coordinate with each other in fighting corruption.
The exercise of preventing corruption must start from the superiors. They should be responsible for monitoring their officers and becoming stricter in the implementation of rules for curbing corruption. Their organization may also introduce developmental assessment programs that may help their officers to perform their duty effectively and efficiently.
Also, the government must introduce a platform where everyone can make a report or complaint relative to any form of corruption or bribery. This will help the government identify certain officers who are engaged in such illegal practices.
What are the possible causes of Police Corruption?
Corruption among police officers may be the cause of the following:
- Poor recruitment, training, and promotion program.
- While it is true that before becoming a police officer they must undergo several trainings to be eligible, it is also true that those trainings merely focus on their physical capacity to become an officer. Mental capacity to perform official duty and function is likewise important as how important physical capacity is.
If police officers were trained enough to use their mental ability well in dealing with situations that may prejudice their function, they can easily overcome different temptations and still promote integrity in their jobs.
- Police culture.
There are several police cultural traditions that inhibit the development of professional police standards. Police culture usually embraces and protects its officer, although it is clear enough that their officers committed grave abuse of their public function and official duty. It must be expunged as it reflects the police culture that overthrows the official standards and accountability of every police officers must possess.
Who are Public Officers?
According to Article 203 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), are any person who, by direct provision of the law, popular election or appointment by competent authority, shall take part in the performance of public functions in the government of the philippine islands, or shall perform in said government or in any of its branches public duties as an employee, agent or subordinate official, of any rank or class shall be deemed to be a public officers.
As stated elsewhere, Police Officers are also public officers as defined above. Thus, knowing such definition, we can determine the standards of conduct that these officers must uphold in relation to other civil service laws for that matter.
According to the decided case by the Supreme Court, the definition of public service is quite comprehensive, embracing, as it does every public servant from the highest to the lowest. For the purposes of the penal code, it obliterates the standard distinction in the law of public officers between officer and employee. Public officers include public employees. All public servants from the president down to garbage collectors if employed and paid by the government come with the definition of a public officer.
What is the commitment of public officers to the Public Service?
Under Republic Act 6713, Public officials and public employees shall always uphold the public interest over and above personal interest. All government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, effectively and honestly, and economically, particularly to avoid wastage in public funds and revenues.
Public officers are always expected to discharge their duties for the benefit of public welfare and interest over their personal benefits and gains. Public officers shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with the utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, loyalty act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives and uphold public interest over personal interest.