PNP says acquittal of 36 cops in Maguindanao case does not mean they can return to fold
The Philippine National Police ( PNP) on Friday clarified that the acquittal of some 36 police officers in the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre does not mean they can easily go back to service.
In a press briefing, Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac, police spokesperson said: “Their acquittal does not necessarily translate to reinstatement to the police service.”
He said out of the 62 PNP personnel accused, 19 were found guilty, while 36 were acquitted.
“Seventeen of whom were placed on automatic leave of absence without pay while under detention,” he said. “Meaning no work, no pay”.
“Now that they are set free by virtue of their acquittal, we are now conducting study of their status and individual case folders to prepare our recommendation should anyone of them apply for restoration to full duty status,” Banac added.
The 17 cops who will avail of restoration to full duty status would still need to undergo mandatory drug test, neuro-psychiatric test and medical examination to determine their fitness after having been away from the service for a very long period.
“They will undergo training to restore their skill and be knowledgeable on the latest set of rules and regulation so that when they go back to their full duty status, they are ready to perform their duty as police officers,” he said.
“It is also on their option if they want to be out of service,” Banac said.
Banac said those who were earlier dismissed from the service but were eventually acquitted of the crime require a different set of procedures to be reinstated.
“Their dismissal from the PNP stemmed from preponderance of evidence which is entirely different from criminal case proceedings,” he said.
“In both cases, however, claim for back wages is not applicable,” he said.
Banac also said the 19 dismissed cops need to file a motion for reconsideration at the National Police Commission (Napolcom) if they want to return to service.
“There is enough basis why they were dismissed administratively,” he said.
He added that there is only a “slim” chance for these dismissed cops to return to service.
On the 12 other cops who remained at-large and also former inspector Michael Joy Macaraeg who snubbed the promulgation of judgement last Thursday, the PNP urged them to peacefully surrender.
A total of 80 personalities remained at-large and unaccounted for over the incident.
“If those (personalities) we are looking for fought back...especially the identified police official, it is within the PNP’s power to use the necessary force calibrated response to lower the level of threat,” he said.
“That’s why our advice is for them to surrender,” Banac said.
Banac said the PNP assured them, especially Macaraeg, that they will be provided enough protection and their human rights will be respected. Ella Dionisio/DMS