A licensed social worker, joining the police force was perhaps not the foremost route P/CMSgt. Marsha T. Agustin had set her sights on, yet it proved to be a decision that solidified the clarity of her lifelong mission: take on a job that saves lives.
Earning a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Saint Paul University in Tuguegarao City, many expected that she would land a career in the Department of Social Welfare and Development. But her fate has presented her quite a different ride, as she chose to realize her goals by working for the Philippine National Police (PNP).
In retrospect, the union of these two disciplines forms part of her legacy in PNP, particularly at the Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) of Camp Crame. Her maiden institution empowers her to advocate for the use of social work principles in handling human trafficking cases and defending the vulnerable—children, women, and the disenfranchised.
During the early stages of WCPC, police investigators found it difficult to interview victims due to their resistance and refusal to share their experiences, and understandably so—cases involving women and children entail a different tack. The victims need a specialized age and gender-sensitive approach especially during interviews due to the trauma incurred.
With P/CMSgt. Agustin’s lead, WCPC has adopted an interviewing technique, dubbed as the “Social Worker-Police Investigative Technique in Handling Cases Involving Women and Children Victims”, combining social work and police investigation designed for victims involved in these sensitive cases.
This method is rooted in the belief that investigative work requires a heart; it is more than acquiring information but working with a person who has his or her own story and whose voice needs to be heard. Case after case, P/CMSgt Agustin reinforces the perspective that the police forces’ duty is the protection of the victim as much as the conviction of perpetrators.
In her 16 years of service in the PNP, P/CMSgt. Agustin has mustered the principle of making the welfare of the victims a paramount consideration. As a mother of two, she treats her clients as her family, thereby giving them their needs as much as she can.
P/CMSgt. Agustin’s expertise extends beyond the premises of WCPC. She co-authored the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual being widely used by the PNP when handling Trafficking in Persons (TIP) cases. This aligns with the new provisions of the Republic Act No. 10364 known as the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act”. P/CMSgt. Agustin is the resource person responsible for cascading the contents of the manual among her peers, particularly on the section on management of trafficked persons.
She is also not one to refuse her neighbors’ call for help. P/CMSgt. Agustin was one of the first police responders in Tacloban City during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda as part of the PNP Disaster Management, Preparedness, and Response Task Group. She took charge of ensuring the welfare of vulnerable women and children in typhoon-afflicted communities through the social worker-police investigative technique. She was lauded as one of the Exemplary Government Accredited Social Workers in 2015 for the said efforts.
Further, P/CMSgt. Agustin believes that assistance to those who come to WCPC for aid does not stop at taking their statements and listening to their stories. Since 2005, she actively provides support by referring them to public hospitals where they can avail of discounted rates on medical services, and by preparing a case study report that conveys the individuals’ current situation and financial handicap. She accompanies them to medical institutions and helps process the necessary documents. This initiative is being replicated by police officers in the PNP Health Service.
Advocating for the holistic delivery of services, P/CMSgt. Agustin’s proposal to dedicate a room exclusively for clients has led to the ongoing construction of a Temporary Processing Area in the WCPC building. She pushed for the establishment of the said facility to provide an environment conducive for the recovery of victims of gender-based violence. This would also improve the current setup of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Division in holding psychosocial interventions and other aftercare services.
As a witness to the victims’ struggles, P/CMSgt. Agustin knows that asking them to recall and share their story is hard thus, she ensures that they see a confidant and ally in her. For every case that she takes on, she carries with her the hope of bringing justice to every victim, helping restore normalcy in their lives, and providing a safer environment for them.
When one thinks of crime, the default scenarios that often crop up on the minds of many are those that happen on the streets or during dark period, as commonly reported by the media. One kind that is inadvertently left at the periphery is the crime done behind a veil of anonymity, using readily available tools such as a computer and internet access: cybercrime.
This is the area that P/Maj. Robert A. Reyes intends to bring to fore. With illegal activities pervading the cyber space and new forms of offenses emerging, safeguarding online users from threats and capturing assailants have become one of the police’s paramount concerns.
P/Maj. Reyes’ career accomplishments can be traced back to his being a pioneer of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Anti-Cybercrime Group in 2013, born out of the Republic Act 10175 “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012”. In this capacity, he helped develop the unit’s operational and administrative manual outlining the guidelines or protocols for cybercrime investigation which is now being used in the training and learning sessions of PNP. P/Maj. Reyes has also led over 20 police operations as well as investigated more than 100 cybercrime cases.
Prior to the group’s formation, his expertise was key to the arrest of a notorious outlaw considered the No. 1 hacker in Korea by the Korean National Police Agency in 2011 and was included in Interpol’s Wanted List. The immediate identity and apprehension of the suspect during that period was urgent due to the bulk of information and customer database he has stolen from a prominent financial service company.
P/Maj. Reyes collaborated with private internet service providers to identify the hacker. The successful operations prevented further reputational damage to the company and loss due to possible extortion in exchange for the selling of the database to syndicates.
With these accomplishments, one would be surprised to know that P/Maj. Reyes almost did not become a cop. His parents knew the risks and dangers of the profession and advised against pursuing the same path his brother took. Fate, however, somehow worked to bring him back to his first dream of joining the Philippine National Police (PNP). His degree in Computer Science serves him well in the exercise of his duty.
Years later, he has brought his expertise to his incumbent unit, the PNP Counter Intelligence Task Force. Reyes was among the pioneer members of this unit that aims to regain the public trust and confidence in PNP by strengthening integrity among the forces. He actively campaigns for this initiative by crafting information, education, and communication (IEC) materials for dissemination. The poster developed by his team is prominently displayed in police stations nationwide.
P/Maj. Reyes has also made it his advocacy to raise awareness among his peers on the proliferation of cybercrimes and the role of the local force to combat this so-called crime without borders where danger is one click away. He believes that targeting felons whose new modus operandi use the internet and technology means that the police forces should also have the technical expertise to locate and catch them.
As one of the most sought-after lecturers of PNP when it comes to cybercrime investigation, he has also delivered various lectures on trafficking in person intelligence and investigation. He hopes that he can help develop more talents in this field. From merely having a handful of police officers equipped to handle cyber-related offenses, an increased number is now qualified as cybercrime investigators.
When he is not solving crimes assigned to his unit or delivering lectures, Reyes is helping various members of society who are victims of illicit online activities. His strong partnership with contacts representing social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram has helped in the deactivation of fake profiles and pages, as well as restoration of hacked accounts and giving the control back to legitimate owners. Since 2012, close to 270 fraudulent accounts were deleted upon P/Maj. Reyes’ intervention.
P/Maj. Reyes, 44, has served in the force for 19 years now. He is married, and is a father of three.
Being a law enforcer should not be divorced from exercising the duties of a public servant. This is the ethos that permeates P/Col. Edwin A. Quilates’ work as a cop who has served the country for 25 years. As the incumbent Provincial Director of the Batangas Police Provincial Office, he believes that his badge stands for his oath to channel all his energies into combating crime in all its forms.
P/Col. Quilates’ mission to make the province crime-free paved the way for the launch of Oplan Iron Curtain, colloquially known as ‘lockdown’, in 2018. The initiative aims to strictly mobilize police forces in and around Batangas through dragnet operations during investigation and manhunt. This leads to the swift apprehension of criminals involved in shooting and/or robbery incidents.
Oplan Iron Curtain, premised on unified command and coordination, is hailed as best practice and as key to the successful arrests of notorious criminals, resulting to lower crime rate in the province and in the entire CALABARZON region.
P/Col. Quilates is also a lawyer which, perhaps, bespeaks his strong sense of justice. Wearing his hats as both officer and legal practitioner, he is quick to respond to his constituents’ call for help. He initiated the Agapay Kabayan campaign that aims to aid select underprivileged communities in Batangas while building trust among locals. The beneficiaries are the over 7,000 residents of barangay Wawa in Batangas City and other indigent barangays. The former is an informal settlers’ area where a segment of the population belongs to an indigenous group.
Agapay Kabayan involves community extension programs that aim to provide the residents’ basic needs as well as make legal assistance available to the public, among others.
For P/Col. Quilates, preserving peace and order in his jurisdiction requires a proactive stance to rein in all crimes on all fronts, and dismantle the systems that enable criminality to exist. This perspective has given rise to a number of programs rallying the police forces to counter prevalent issues in Batangas such as use of illegal firearms, war on drugs, shooting and robbery incidents, and organized crime.
With his leadership, his office initiated Oplan Balik Armas which campaigns for the responsible use of firearms among Batangueños by temporarily safekeeping their guns pending license renewal, or mandating them to surrender their guns in case they will not renew its license. This strategy has been adopted by Region 4-A CALABARZON due to its effective prevention of illegal firearms use.
P/Col. Quilates also led the Simula ng Pag-asa (SIPAG) Program to complement the government’s war on drugs and to respond to the number of individuals who surrendered. As the name implies, SIPAG Program is grounded on the idea that rehabilitation is central to the transformation of the surrenders and re-integrating them to society as responsible citizens with renewed hope and purpose.
Prior to taking the helm of the Batangas Police Provincial Station, P/Col. Quilates’ previous stints have also helped seal his contribution to the force. He was the Chief of Police of Marilao, Plaridel and San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan where he displayed acumen that garnered him the Best Chief of Police distinction for three consecutive years.
He has been assigned in high risk areas as Chief of Intelligence and Operation of the Sulu Anti-Kidnapping Task Force, Deputy Regional Chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 9, and as the ARMM CIDG Regional Chief in Cotabato City from 2014 to 2015. His roles were instrumental to the arrest of most wanted outlaws and notorious members of communist insurgency groups.
P/Col. Quilates, 49, is now on his 25th year of police service, and he is keen on keeping the province safe under his watch and ensuring Batangueños that he is at their service, as a cop and community leader. He is a graduate of the Philippine National Police Academy as a member of the Patnubay Class of 1995. He earned his degree in Law at Manuel L. Quezon University and his Master’s degree in Business Administration at the Adventist University of the Philippines. He is married and has two kids.