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Fariñas wants Congress to have own police force

Fariñas wants the Congress police to provide security, at taxpayers’ expense, not only to lawmakers but also to their spouses, children, and relatives up to the second degree of affinity or consanguinity. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando

MANILA, Philippines — After advising traffic constables against apprehending congressmen who violate traffic rules, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas now wants  Congress to have its own police force, independent and distinct from the Philippine National Police (PNP). 

Fariñas wants the Congress police to provide security, at taxpayers’ expense, not only to lawmakers but also to their spouses, children, and relatives up to the second degree of affinity or consanguinity.

And Fariñas has received support from his colleagues.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon said House Bill 6208 filed by Fariñas“is a logical step in ensuring the security of Congress without having to rely on the PNP and military, whose personnel should be focused on performing their original mandated functions.” 

“The existing legislative security is insufficient to fulfill this role because it lacks police authority, firepower and the equipment to perform the appropriate security function,” Biazon said. 

He stressed that the concept of a Congress police is not new, citing the US Capitol police, which safeguards Congress, lawmakers, employees, visitors and congressional buildings in Washington against crime, disruption and terrorism.

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Fariñas wants the House of Representatives and the Senate to have their own police force, to be called Philippine Legislative Police (PLP) that is independent from the PNP. 

He said the two chambers depend only on law enforcement agencies like the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation to perform their legislative functions to compel resource persons to attend public hearings in the House and Senate. 

“The reliance of Congress on the law enforcement agencies impairs to a large extent the independence of Congress from the executive department,” Fariñas said, citing as instance the House’s drug probe on former justice secretary and now Sen. Leila de Lima. 

Lawmakers had to rely on the PNP to produce Ronnie Dayan, the driver-bodyguard of De Lima, who went into hiding shortly after their alleged drug connections were exposed. 

The senator is now detained in Camp Crame, Quezon City on drug trafficking charges.

“The system of checks and balances fundamentally requires the independence of the branches of government and only through such independence that the ends of government are better achieved,” Fariñas, now on his third and last term, said. 

A PLP is needed to ensure the lawmakers’ safety and enforce Congress’ subpoena powers.

The PLP is contained in House Bill 6208 that he authored.

Fariñas said Congress does not have the necessary manpower and capability to protect legislators when they perform duties and consult constituents outside of their offices, both in the Batasan complex and their district offices.

The PLP’s proposed functions include securing the safety of congressmen, their spouses and their relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity – ”upon determination and validation that their lives are under threat.”

The Congress police will also protect the properties of Congress, maintain peace and order, prevent crimes, coordinate firearms licenses and coordinate with other law enforcement agencies for sharing intelligence information on threats to Congress or its members.

The legislative police will also serve subpoenas and warrants issued by Congress.

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