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Lacson: Why is the PNP looking for 'force multipliers' abroad?

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Lacson: Why is the PNP looking for 'force multipliers' abroad?
This undated photo shows the Philippine National Police's headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City
PNP Public Information Office

MANILA, Philippines — A senator is questioning the "global coalition" of civilian anti-crime volunteers backed by the Philippine National Police, saying the "force multipliers" can be used for politicking and partisan politics.

At the Senate Committee on Finance's hearing on the Department of Interior and Local Government's proposed budget for 2022, Sen. Panfilo Lacson questioned why the PNP would look for force multipliers abroad such as in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong when the PNP's mandate is only to address internal threats. 

"The last time I heard, the PNP is a territorial force. It is supposed to address internal threats. Why a 'global coalition'? Why do we need global force multipliers to target internal threats? It looks like overseas Filipino workers are the target," he asked the PNP during his interpellation of the proposed budget.

"I'll be blunt. This looks like a tool for politicking by the PNP's community relations arm," he added.

'Force multipliers'?

The PNP launched the Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Support Groups and Force Multipliers in June this year to "build a strong collaborative partnership with the community in support to the ongoing campaign against communist insurgency, illegal drugs, extremist terrorism and disaster mitigation."

The 11 groups are:

  • Kabataan Kontra Droga At Terorismo
  • National Coalition of Information Technology Advocates for Change
  • Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office/Alliance for Industrial Peace Program
  • KALIGKASAN
  • International And Local Help Desk
  • Global Peace Community Relations, Anti-Crime Community and Emergency Response Team
  • Association of Chiefs of Police of the Philippines Inc.; Affiliated NGOs (ACPPIAN)
  • Foreign National Keepers Network
  • Project JUANA (MAGDALENA Mission)

"If we are to totally eradicate criminality and terrorism, we need the active participation of our people,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in his speech during the launch of the coalition in Camp Crame.

"The formation of this coalition is a testament to the desire of private citizens and our communities to take part in the difficult task of achieving lasting peace across the nation."

At the Senate hearing Tuesday, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief, said that the groups would "help" the PNP by "acting as their force multipliers" to "gain the support of the people...in the maintenance of peace and order."

Asked about the terminology referring to it as a global and international coalition, Eleazar pointed to the PNP's deployment of police attaches in foreign countries, which he said the PNP also needed to "support."

"We used the term [global] so that we can have engagement with the OFWs and their families so that we can assist them," he said. 

"I would like to assure that this effort of the PNP will not be used for political purposes."

Lacson added that when he questioned the coalition earlier, he was attacked on the official Facebook and Twitter accounts of the National Task Force to End Communist Armed Conflict, particularly the office of Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy.

PNP bats for arming civilians, collecting data

Lacson, himself a former PNP chief who is running for president in the 2022 polls, said that Police Maj. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, former director of the PNP Police Community Relations unit, "has much explaining to do on his involvement in activities involving the gathering of data including email addresses and phone numbers."

Eleazar earlier admitted that the "advocacy groups" backed by the police have been collecting data on the barangay level, claiming also that the information is freely given to them.

He earlier backed Duterte's proposal to arm civilian volunteers and other force multipliers to "aid" cops in fighting crime and maintaining peace and order. 

But has also vowed to keep partisanship out of the PNP while also ordering a crackdown on armed, private armies and loose firearms. 

He eventually backtracked and said the PNP would not actually arm them but said there would be no problem with volunteers bringing their own weapons with which to defend themselves. 

"You are looking for members in areas with many OFWs. How can they help enhance the anti-criminality campaign of the PNP that is supposed to address internal threats? I cannot reconcile this," Lacson said. 

The PNP chief earlier this year also asserted there was nothing wrong with supporting pro-administration groups collecting data surrendered voluntarily to "help the government." He did not say what the data was for.

"Why are we contradicting this if the government wants the support of the people? It's for the government! What about other groups that are fighting against the government?" he said in Filipino.

Under the government's proposed budget for 2022, the DILG is slated to receive a P248.5 billion budget for its projects, good for a 0.41% increase from its allocation of P247.5 billion in 2021.

According to the department's breakdown, though, the PNP is set to receive the lion's share with P190.5 billion, or 76.5% of the DILG's budget in the National Expenditure Program.

The department said 85% of its budget would go to the salaries of uniformed personnel. 

with a report from Bella Perez-Rubio 

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

PNP

SEN. PANFILO LACSON

SENATE

SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES

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