ASIA: Women’s views on prevention of torture – Interview 21 

An interview conducted by the Asian Human Rights Commission. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC.

Philippines: “I just don’t trust them when it comes to investigating a complaint”

Ms. Josie Obguia is a Bachelor of Arts Major in Mass Communications (AB Mass Com) from the University of Mindanao, Davao City. She now lives in Manila working as an out-sourcing agent. In an online interview with the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), she expresses her views based on personal experience in seeking assistance from the police.

What do you think of the policing system of your country? Is it good? Or do you think it should be different?

Based on my personal experience, most policemen lack a sense of urgency especially if your complaints are just about robbery or something like that. If you know someone in their office (police station), they would treat you a little more special. Most of them would act better if there is a (video) camera, for instance in investigative TV shows like ‘XXX’ or ‘Imbestigador’ (two popular local television shows), they behave better during those times or when they are interviewed.

My first experience (with the police) was when my necklace was snatched. The police showed no interest about my complaint. The second time was when I accompanied a friend who was complaining about a woman (an overseas job recruiter) to whom she had done business with. This woman was the one processing her visa for Qatar. After my friend gave her payment to her, she did not show up. So we had to report this to the police. It so happened that a mutual friend was close to someone at the police station where we reported so we were accommodated nicely.

Yes, I think it has to be different. For me, they (the police) should treat any complaints seriously.

What do you think of police use of torture? Good, Bad? Kindly explain

When it comes to torture, I watched in the news that there are some policemen who still do that with accused robbers and snatchers. There was even a policeman who was caught on video beating an accused. He did not know that the neighbor of the accused had a video camera (and recorded the incident while he was beating the victim). This was reported to his chief who promised to investigate. I don’t think any kind of torture is good. It does not show respect for human life. A little force may do especially for stubborn guys, because there are accused who have weapons, or who are physically stronger than the policemen, but not to the point of hurting them.

What is your idea of a good relationship between the police and citizens?

My idea of a good relationship between policemen and citizens is when policemen have changed their image and that people can see that they can be trusted enough.

Follow-up question: How do you think they can “change their image”; how should the trust of the people be gained?

To be honest, I don’t know how changing their image can be achieved. Maybe this could be done after a massive change of the whole police system, or maybe it should also start for the government. I’m not sure where to start. For me, the trust of the people can only be gained if we see even a little improvement.

If you have a problem, would you feel safe to go the police and complain?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I think I’d still go to the police just to have it (complaint) documented. With the police themselves, yes I still feel safe with them, especially when I go out at night to work (out-sourcing center agents like her works during nighttime or as they call it, the ‘graveyard shift’). More police visibility less crime! But I just don’t have enough trust with them when it comes to investigating a complaint or solving murders.

Follow-up question: How would you reconcile, while you do not trust them in terms of investigating complaint, but you still report to them?

Maybe I am still hoping that there will come a time that these policemen will be fully equipped to solve cases and that is why I will still report to them for a police blotter (local term of recording complaints at the police station).

Is there a domestic violence law in your country? If yes, is it well implemented? If none, what are the problems?

I’m honestly not aware if there is domestic violence law. But I’m aware that there is a women and children’s helpdesk in every police station. They say that there is a helpdesk for abused women and children.

Follow-up question: Do you know of any rape victim, victims of sexual abuse or assault who made complaint to the police? What happened to their case/complaint?

I don’t know anyone personally but I saw some on TV documentary shows, most of the cases are solved with the help of those who are behind the show.

Follow-up question: When you say “solve”, what do you mean?

Meaning the suspects was caught or better yet became convicts.

Finally, do you have any thoughts about the police that I have not asked?

I’m hoping that with the new administration (the Philippines held its general elections in May 2010 and has elected a new President, national and local positions), there will be improvement. I hope there would still be some good policemen.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-117-2010
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Police negligence, Police violence, Rule of law, Torture, Violence against women, Women's rights,