The door may be slowly opening again for graduates of the country’s premier military school to join the police service.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has ordered the reactivation of a technical working group to study a proposal that would allow graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to enter the 148,000-strong police force.
But some police officers warned that the move, which was started by the PMA Alumni Association Inc. (PMAAAI) in 2010, may revive the friction between graduates of the PMA and of the PNP Academy (PNPA) in the police organization.
In a letter to then PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome on Oct. 22, 2012, the PMAAAI chair, retired Lt. Gen. Edgardo Batenga, expressed support for the study of “the allocation of new PMA graduates to the PNP.”
On Feb. 7, 2013, Rameses Victorious Villagonzalo, PMA Cebu Squad Inc. lawyer, sent a letter to PNP Director General Alan Purisima and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista seeking their support in convincing President Aquino to approve the PMAAAI’s proposal.
Villagonzalo provided Purisima and Bautista with a draft executive order “that allows a graduate exchange of PMA and PNPA.”
“Its intention is to keep the PMA breed in control—both of the AFP and especially the PNP, which has a fading number of cavaliers,” he said in the letter.
Purisima, known to be a close friend of the President, and Bautista are both members of PMA Class of 1981.
“This decision of the PNP could be counterproductive since it might lead only to disunity and mistrust among graduates of the PNPA and the PMA,” a senior PNP officer, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, told the Inquirer.
The police officer, a PMA graduate, said the PNP should thoroughly study the matter because it would affect the careers of many senior police officers.
“The PNP has gained so much in recent years in terms of improving its image and in delivering public service. Issues such as this should not put those efforts to waste,” he said.
In a letter dated March 26, Director Samuel Diciano, chief of the PNP Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development, reminded the Office of the Chief of the Directorial Staff that the PNP Directorate of Personnel and Resource Management had created a team to study “the procurement of PMA graduates to the PNP” in April 2010.
“In view of the above, this directorate recommends that the NHQ-TWG (national headquarters-technical working group) be reactivated to be chaired by TDPL (The Directorate for Plans) for this purpose,” Diciano said in his letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.
Sought for comment on Sunday, Col. Romeo Brawner, chair of the PMAAAI’s public relations committee, welcomed the decision of the PNP to revisit the group’s proposal.
“We welcome the PNP’s move because we want to know how the PMA alumni association can help the (police). We will wait for the results of the study,” Brawner said in a mobile phone interview.
He played down insinuations that enlisting new PMA graduates as police officers would lead to jealousy between PNPA and PMA alumni, noting that graduates of both institutions had created “coalition organizations” to forge unity.
“The relationship (between PMA and PNPA graduates) has become stronger. They built coalition organizations among their counterparts. They have joined together,” Brawner said.
He noted that those groups were still in existence. “They usually have get-togethers to avoid friction. That (friction) might be normal, but they are doing something to find a solution.”
The PMAAAI’s move was apparently aimed at allowing graduates of the military educational institution to keep their hold on the leadership of the law enforcement agency.
The reorganization of the police force and the birth of the PNP on Jan. 29, 1991, was the result of the enactment of the Local Government Code of 1990.
The PNP’s precursor, the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police, used to be a unit of the Philippine Army.
The Local Government Code made the police service civilian in character, thus prohibiting military-trained personnel from joining the PNP.
Since then, the bulk of the PNP’s commissioned officers were graduates of the PNPA, which has a training academy in Silang, Cavite, and professionals such as lawyers and doctors who applied for lateral entry.
Members of PMA Class of 1992 were the last graduates of the military school recruited into the PNP. Most of them are expected to retire in 2026.