Aquino wants lawmen to be looked up to, not downBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Joining the police force may be as tough as finding the right height, especially if you don’t measure up.
Congress should not make it easy for you, or law enforcement could come up short of public expectations.
So President Aquino vetoed a bill that would repeal the height requirement for admission into the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Malacañang said Monday.
Aquino decided the bill was unnecessary because there was an existing waiver of the height requirement in the public protection service.
With the veto, the height requirement for admission into the three agencies under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)—1.62 meters (5’4”) for men and 1.56 m (5’2”) for women—stands.
In vetoing the bill, Aquino said applicants to the PNP, BFP, and BJMP had to comply with certain general qualifications, under existing laws, such as the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1990, BFP and BJMP Professionalization Act of 2004, and the DILG Act of 1990.
“Whereas height is among these qualifications, a waiver of this qualification is allowed under certain conditions. Hence the total repeal of the height requirement among these service bureaus is unnecessary,” Aquino said in his veto message.
The consolidated bill, Senate Bill No. 3217 and House Bill No. 6203, titled “An Act Repealing the Minimum Height Requirement for Applicants to the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology,” would have dealt with height equality among the three agencies.
While he recognized the bill’s “noble intent,” Aquino said he was “seriously apprehensive about the concerns’’ raised by the PNP and the BJMP on the safety of their personnel and of the public.
“As raised by the BJMP, jail officers, by the nature of their work in guarding detainees or escorting criminals, must possess the necessary physical attributes to perform their functions effectively,” he said.
Too, public safety “is paramount in law enforcement by the PNP, as well as firefighting by the BFP,” he added.
This was the second bill vetoed by the President in a week after the Magna Carta of the Poor, whose P3-trillion budget far exceeds the P2.006-trillion 2013 national budget.
The President said the government could not implement the magna carta because of its big budget.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the height requirement did not discriminate against Filipinos, pointing out that the law requires applicants to possess certain physical attributes necessary for them to do their job.
“That’s not discrimination. That is demanded by the nature of their job,” she said.