Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday sought various reforms in the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help boost its stature and integrity, increase benefits and remuneration, and advance the promotion of members of the organization.
“Kung ano ang ating itatanim, iyan ang ating aanihin. Kung sa batas na ito ay magtatanim tayo ng tamang resources, batas, at proteksyon para sa ating mga pulis, maganda rin ang aanihin natin,” Cayetano said in his interpellation on the proposed amendments to the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 (Senate Bill No. 2449) sponsored by Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
The independent senator said in the same manner, the country cannot expect improvements in police services if the amendments are not approved.
“Kung medyo kuripot po tayo sa batas na ito na ibibigay sa pulis, let’s not expect na maganda din yung reforms sa kanila,” he said.
Strengthening police integrity
One of the major points Cayetano raised is the strengthening of the integrity of police officers through the PNP’s Internal Affairs Services (IAS), which leads the PNP’s efforts against police misconduct and corruption.
“If you reform the police, you reform the society… Parang base sa PNP organizational chart ngayon, hindi kasi stocked with resources and people ang IAS. Shouldn’t we strengthen the IAS because it is also the strengthening of policemen?” he told dela Rosa, who agreed with him.
The independent senator said one of the deterrents to investigators is the lack of resources to conduct probes, which he said could be remedied by giving the IAS a separate budget.
“I’d like to see, even sa law na ito, that there could be a separate budget, either from the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary or PNP Chief when they think that a case may be important. Kung may importanteng kaso, dapat magkaroon ng automatic budget for the investigation na hindi pwedeng galawin,” he said.
Agreeing with Cayetano’s points, dela Rosa – who was the first PNP Chief under the Duterte administration – said the PNP should also attract more quality officers toward the IAS.
Reforming police stature
Seeking the welfare of police officers, Cayetano called for the improvement of their overall well-being by improving their overall standing, their allowances, salaries, and additional benefits such as housing, vehicle provisions, and ministry to their families.
He also pushed for confidence-building by increasing police visibility. “Shouldn’t we also have other symbols of visibility [of policemen]? It gives you confidence na kapag may nangyari, nandyan na ang police. It’s more confidence-building, but it will help the reform. Maybe we can add that. There should be a conscious effort for symbols of visibility for the PNP,” he said.
To further enhance the stability of the PNP organization, Cayetano proposed a fixed term of two to three years for the PNP Chief to enable him to fulfill his plans for the organization.
“The present PNP Chief (Benjamin Acorda) will retire in March 2024… Pero kung sino man papalit sa kanya, unless siya ang finance or director for programs, mamanahin niya ang budget at pananaw ng former chief PNP. The cycle continues,” the senator explained.
“With power or authority comes responsibility and accountability. But it’s so hard to make someone accountable if we don’t give him the authority,” he added.
Cayetano commended dela Rosa for championing the amendments in the PNP reform bill.
“We are blessed because the sponsor is proposing this. Kumbaga ang hugot na ito ay from his personal experience from a life of spending his career from the Philippine Military Academy, to reaching being a four-star general… His experience [and inputs for this bill] is invaluable,” Cayetano said.