Jakarta – The National Police have denied a claim made by Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) accusing the force of allocating hundreds of billions of rupiah to make preparations for protests against the Job Creation Law.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Argo Yuwono confirmed that police had allocated Rp 408.8 billion (US$27.85 million) for personnel equipment under its control unit budget for security measures. He said the funds were not allocated in anticipation of a series of protests against the new law but for the upcoming regional elections.
"[The budget] is for helmets, foot protectors, shields and other equipment. The funds are for the procurement of mass control equipment for police in regions that will hold elections," Argo said on Saturday as reported by Tempo.co.
Concurrent regional elections are set to take place in 270 regions across Indonesia on Dec. 9.
He urged the public not to be concerned about the use of the police budget, claiming the force would uphold transparency.
"The Supreme Audit Agency [BPK] is assessing the budget, so there are no problems [with the use of the budget]. But everything is linked to the protests nowadays," Argo added.
The ICW previously alleged that police used the funds to prepare for mass protests against the recent endorsement of the highly controversial omnibus Job Creation Law. The House of Representatives and the government passed the bill into law on Monday in a speedy deliberation that critics said was flawed and legally questionable.
Thousands of protestors, including labor groups and university students, staged three days of protests from Tuesday to Thursday across the archipelago to voice their opposition to the law, which they argue undermines labor rights and environmental protections. The protests peaked on Thursday when clashes broke out between protestors and security personnel, leading to thousands of arrests.
Citing reports from the National Police's electronic procurement services (LPSE), ICW researcher Wana Alamsyah said police made large procurements of equipment valued in the hundreds of billions of rupiah in September this year.
"In September, the LSPE recorded several goods procurement from the revised State Budget for emergency needs, allegedly to anticipate protests against the jobs law," he said on Thursday as reported by Tempo.co.
The ICW noted there had been five procurements of goods throughout September, including a centralized command control system for intelligence target surveillance for the National Police's Security Intelligence Agency, helmets and bulletproof vests for the Police Mobile Brigade, tactical mass control devices and tactical observation drones.
The ICW also linked the procurement to the telegram issued by National Police chief Gen. Idham Azis ordering his subordinates to maintain control in handling the then-planned protests against the jobs law.