By: PLTCOL ARVIE P BUENO
(Lifted from 2017 issue of PANYERONG PULIS MAGAZINE)
These are the times that test man’s soul. What does it mean to be a PNP Lawyer during these times?
The answer can never be singularly defined. Apart from regular conferences, attendance to committees, lectures/seminars, rendering of legal opinion, giving legal advices, legal representations, drafting of communications and memoranda, constant coordination with the COP’s, command group, hands on communications with PNP clients and community-based services, provincial legal officers here at PRO4A find ourselves immersed in checking affidavits of arrest and investigators’ affidavit in connection with drug cases. This task regularly took up much of our time, so much so that we are spending almost 70% of our time in front of our personnel computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones. Indeed, we are giving up on being social individuals. Forced by the circumstances, I sometimes hated the arresting officers for erroneous procedures, argue with the investigators for the highly irregular process and applauded them for a job well-done. I feel good guiding them through the toilsome process of filing drug cases and I feel bad when I have to sit down at the oversight committee on dismissed drug cases and recommend filing of charges against them. Indeed, how can I condemn them using the very same hands I used to help them?
I find myself always arguing with my boss, Sir Ramy, who being equally stressed with the heavy workload at regional headquarters, always insist on disposition of administrative cases at the regional level and who always nags about my being late at our meetings/conferences and submission of reports and case folders. Being pressured beyond imagination, he assigned me, despite my pleadings for his mercy, as legal officer of Quezon PPO concurrent with Cavite PPO. So I have to think of another 39 MPS, 2 CPS, 1 QPPSC and 7 platoons which also have drug cases. This time, I literally shared the same bed with probable cause. That is, probable cause in drug cases and drug affidavits sleep beside me, yes, right under my pillow.
With PSSUPT ARTHUR V BISNAR at the helm, one of the best PD, CAVPPO has ever had, I remember spending a weekend among other Cavite PPO officers manning the ACP in the Oplan Emperor, an ISO operation, I experienced sympathizing both with policemen and illegal settlers all at the same time during the demolition in Brgy. Mercedes (patungan), Maragondon, Cavite. I braved the smoke and endure the sight of fire during conflagration at Gen. Trias Cavite as Legal Officer assisting the Crisis Management Committee, I held gun when we were directed to participate in the massive service of SW and anti-illegal drug operations in Barangay Datu Esmael in Dasmarinas, Cavite and Brgy Aniban Zapote in Bacoor, both, being known as drug sources in the Province of Cavite.
Lawyering for the PPO then adds another definition to being a lawyer. It is no longer lawyering within the confines of an airconditioned office. It is not just taking responsibility for your own legal opinion and rendering legal services to them. Lawyering from here means, going out of your comfort zone, away from your office and working with policemen with our hands tightly held together. Sharing the same grounds with them, the same fears, tears, and apprehensions. Enduring everything together with them, the hunger and the colds of the night, the heat of the sun and the uncertainty that a day might bring. Breathing the same air, having the same expectations and bringing the same hope. While policemen at ground fight with their arms, we also fight with our hearts. Strategic and tactical expertise peppered with legal skills. With their arms. With our faith…. in law and legal processes.
Indeed, lawyering for PPO has forced me to go to somewhere where I have never been before, it forced me to see, feel and hear things I won’t consciously see, feel and hear.
The definition of lawyering for the PNP is constantly changing, it always adopts to the needs of time, a lawyer must perforce be flexible and dynamic. A fixed definition is a dead definition. But no matter what the definition is, the goal must continue…. to be a lawyer until such time as lawyering would become “stale, flat and unprofitable”, as Shakespeare would put it.