Police politics
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (Philstar.com) - October 9, 2019 - 12:00am

Through these years since its creation in 1991, the Philippine National Police (PNP) seems to be an organization that remains fragmented, if not a fractious one, especially during promotion period. It was on Jan. 29, 1991 when the late president Corazon Aquino signed Republic Act (RA) 6975, or the enabling law that created the PNP now with 190,000 strong force.

RA 6975 fleshed out the country’s 1987 Constitution that provided for the creation of a police force that is national in scope but civilian in character. Thus, the PNP was placed directly under the supervision and control of the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The first Congress elected during the term of Mrs. Aquino that crafted the PNP Law made sure the country’s police forces should internalize its civilian character. RA 6975 removed the military ranks and replaced them with equivalent civilian ranks, with Director General of the PNP as the highest and equivalent five-star rank of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). 

For almost three decades, we got used to the civilian ranks of the police. When former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte came into the presidency in June 2016, he made no bones about his difficulties in the police ranks. Thus, the 17th Congress passed into law RA 11200 which President Duterte signed in February this year that tweaked the PNP ranks back using military terminology. Thus, outgoing top cop is now called PNP Police General Oscar Albayalde.

So it was not a surprise when President Duterte slipped in calling two police generals as still “playing” the illegal drugs trade during a speech in Russia last week. Upon arrival from Moscow last Sunday, the President clarified he was not referring to any police generals but alluded to lower ranked police officers, though he still did not name the alleged two rogue cops.         

Speaking of rogue cops, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon resumes today its public hearing on the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) granted to persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). This will be the ninth public hearing of the Senate that spun off to the illegal drugs trade of certain high-profile PDLs inside the state penitentiary in Muntinlupa City and their police cohorts called as “ninja” cops.

According to Gordon, several more PNP officers are expected to speak on internal investigation against the 13 police officers – led by Police Maj. Rodney Baloyo – involved allegedly in the shabu factory raid in Pampanga in November 2013. Gordon would like to dig deeper into how and why these alleged “ninja” cops managed to avoid dismissal from the service even after they were earlier found liable for the pilferage of shabu and seized money from a suspected drug lord.

Gordon vows to further grill the outgoing PNP chief who is winding down his term ending on his mandatory age of retirement on Nov. 8. Albayalde was Pampanga provincial police director when the questioned raid was staged. He was relieved in March 2014 for command responsibility to pave the way for an internal investigation.

When the “ninja” cops issue came up in the course of the Senate hearing, it turned out the same police officers were supposed to be facing separate criminal charges pending before the Department of Justice (DOJ) but which suspiciously did not prosper also. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has created a new panel of state prosecutors to take another look into this case. 

Following the organizational set-up of the DILG-PNP, the same police officers ought to undergo separate administrative proceedings before the National Police Commission (Napolcom). But in the past three Senate hearings on the “ninja” cops case, there was no mention of how their case was resolved, if ever, by the Napolcom. DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has earlier vowed to probe Albayalde and review the case of the 13 “ninja” cops in Pampanga.

RA 6975 was first amended by RA 8557, or better known as the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998.

Under Section 13 of RA 8557, Napolcom was created as an agency attached to the DILG. Napolcom’s two major functions are administer and control the police force, and handle investigations of irregularities to include the punishment or dismissal of erring police officers. It is a five-man body where the DILG Secretary sits as the ex-officio chairperson. Albayalde, as the incumbent PNP chief, sits as ex-officio member.

When Albayalde appears anew at the Senate hearing today, Gordon will find the once-embattled PNP chief more relaxed to his intense interrogations. This after Albayalde spoke with the President upon the latter’s return from Moscow and claimed having gotten a reprieve to stay on his post until he steps down next month as his top cop.

 Albayalde could only wish his unknown detractors to move on. He could only blame “internal politics” at the PNP which he rued tried to either tarnish his last weeks in office or even lead to his premature retirement.

Speculating on the motives of his detractors, Albayalde suspects it may have something to do with his possible nominating to President Duterte his successor as new PNP chief. “It would be like a ‘kiss-of-death’ to anyone I nominate,” Albayalde surmised.

Internal politics at the PNP could be as deadly for the career of these police officers whenever they engaged each other in character assassinations.

Mrs. Aquino adopted the so-called “deep selection” process, or the candidates in picking the AFP Chief of Staff can be considered all the way down the ranks and not just limited from level of Generals. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo adopted the so-called “revolving door” policy in which even Generals due to retire less than a year could still be appointed to the top post of the police and military.

Police politics aside, President Duterte will decide the best option of choosing his next top cop in the exercise of his prerogative as Commander-in-chief of the country’s police force.

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