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Dialogue between Prosecutors and Police Investigators from Northern Mindanao Region

The Hanns Seidel Foundation has a long-standing partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Philippine National Police (PNP) and is glad to support this project between the two organisations.  The objective is to strengthen the communication between prosecutors and police investigators, members of the two of the five pillars of the criminal justice system, as this involves the DOJ-NPS and the Philippine National Police-Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (PNP-DIDM). 

Previous joint activities, which were focused on dialogue activities in the Northern Mindanao Region, helped to highlight the positive impact that open communication and exchanges between prosecutors and police investigators can have towards an improvement of the criminal prosecution procedure.  The continued conduct of these activities is expected to contribute to a further increase in the efficiency and effectiveness in the work of the prosecutors and of the police investigators, thereby leading to an improvement in the prosecution process.

HSF PH

Dialogue activities in the Northern Mindanao Region

From 2017 to 2019, a series of dialogue activities between prosecutors from the cities and provinces comprising Northern Mindanao and their counterpart police investigators and law enforcement officers from the Police Regional Office No. 10 have been conducted.

Initially, the objectives of the dialogue centred on changing the perception of the police investigators and the prosecutors into regarding each other as belonging to the same team.  The activities sought to open up communication channels between the police investigators and the prosecutors so as to help deepen their understanding of one another’s work and the role each has in the law-enforcement-and-prosecution as a whole.  The dialogues provided the participants with the opportunity to exchange information and increase their level of co-operation with one another, so as to strengthen the linkage between the two of the five pillars of the Philippine criminal justice system, i.e. Law Enforcement and Prosecution.

As the series of activities progressed, the realization of police investigators and prosecutors that they are in one team working towards a common goal – the successful prosecution of cases – emerged and they acknowledged that communication channels between police investigators and prosecutors may need to be further strengthened.  From thereon, the objectives evolved.

The exchanges during the dialogue activities deepened and began to focus more on the identification of procedural, information and communication gaps in order to strengthen linkages between police investigators and prosecutors.  At the same time, areas, issues and problems encountered during police investigation that affect prosecution of cases and that therefore needed to be addressed, were identified.  More importantly, the participants openly discussed about working together to correct those gaps and find solutions to the problem areas identified.

HSF PH

Changing needs, evolving approaches

In some provinces, such as Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon, the activities began to take on a thematic approach in 2018.  Both provinces recognized the importance of tackling pressing issues and concentrate on major crimes such as cybercrime, crimes against women and children and environmental crimes and those involving prohibited drugs.  In Bukidnon, other critical issues were also taken up, such as land disputes and land conflicts and the Witness Protection Program.

To address serious thematic issues, the participants invited to the dialogue activities eventually expanded to include other colleagues in law enforcement, including officers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Women and Children Police Desks, Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit, Environment and Natural Resources Office.  Representatives from the regional offices of the government line agencies concerned, including Social Welfare and Development Officers and Environment and Natural Resource officers also participated in specific dialogue activities.

Further, representatives from the DOJ-NPS and their counterparts in law enforcement participated in an information and exchange visit to Germany during which they met with Bavarian State Prosecutors and Bavarian Police Investigators, and exchanged experiences and views on how to further strengthen working relations between prosecutors and police investigators.

Sustaining the gains and moving forward

Through the continued conduct of the dialogue activities, the prosecutors and the police investigators have increasingly become even more engaged and proactive, such that they offer ways to help resolve issues during the dialogue activities and discuss ways to address challenges and work out problems.  Future sessions are expected to be adapted to the cooperation and coordination needs of prosecutor and law enforcement officer participants and help both to harmonise their collaboration and become even more responsive and proactive pillars of the justice system in the country.

Since the launching of this series of dialogue activities in Cagayan de Oro City in 2017, twenty-three have been held with participants from the five provinces of the region and from highly urbanised cities, including five activities where participants included representatives from each of the provinces and from the major cities.  Additionally, two Top-Level Policy Dialogue activities have been held in Manila, with the previous one held last 28 November 2019 and participated in by DOJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra and the Chief of the Philippine National Police, Police General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa.  Due to the positive results, suggestions to expand the activities to hold dialogues at the national level and to include another region in the country are under consideration.

The results of the dialogue sessions will be synthesized and provided to the Head of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) and the Chief of the Philippine National Police in order to contribute to possible policy reform requested by the prosecution and law enforcement.