Power to discipline cops is key to reform in the PNP

I am glad to know that Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa shares my view which I expressed during my YouTube livestream 3 nights ago that the “power to discipline” is lacking in the set-up of the Philippine National Police. It all started when our lawmakers established the PNP in 1990 by virtue of Republic Act No. 6975. Under this law, the PNP departed from the previous nature of the defunct Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police as a military organization. It became “civilian in character”.

The PNP law put policemen and women under the supervision of the National Police Commission (Napolcom). It limited the powers of their unit commanders to impose disciplinary sanctions against uniformed personnel who commit infractions, and even crimes. Being “civilian in character”, police officers were governed by Civil Service rules and regulations, with heavy emphasis on due process.

Superior officers could not just order their subordinates to do push-ups or berate them in formation for fear this would expose them to administrative charges. It led to the gradual breakdown in discipline in the rank and file. This has been happening for the last three decades. And because of the slow bureaucratic procedures in disciplinary actions, the PNP adopted the practice of just assigning “bad eggs” to hardship posts like Basilan and Sulu. It didn’t put away the problem. It only postponed situations like what we saw in Paniqui, Tarlac.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with top-ranked officers of the PNP during the birthday of my kumpadre, General (now retired) Cipriano “Jun” Querol, when he was the PNP regional director for Western Visayas and the topic was discipline. All of the officers started their police careers with the defunct PC, and they bemoaned the stark difference in organizational discipline. During the PC days, the mere loud voice of the company first sergeant was enough to strike fear in the hearts and minds of PC soldiers. This changed when the PNP was turned into a civilian organization.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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