House wants own private army?
Is the House of Representatives trying to create its own private army?
That was the reaction of some lawmakers to the proposal of House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas for Congress to have its own law enforcement force with the creation of a “Philippine Legislative Police.”
“The people may say that we are creating a private army for congressmen,” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano told a press briefing on Tuesday.
“This is just another unnecessary expense,” he said.
Alejano said a legislative police force would only duplicate the functions of the Philippine National Police, considering that the latter was already fulfilling the requirements asked of it by the two Houses.
Speaking at the same forum, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the proposal was ill-advised.
He said institutionalizing a police force for legislators at the expense of the government might send the wrong signal.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin noted that Fariñas’ proposal came on the heels of his invocation of parliamentary immunity for lawmakers who violated traffic laws.
He said the chamber might acquire a reputation as a House of “impunity in privileges and entitlements.”
In his explanatory note for House Bill 6208, Fariñas noted that Congress was currently relying on law enforcement agencies under the executive branch of government to protect lawmakers and execute contempt orders.
“The reliance of Congress on the law enforcement agencies … impairs, to a large extent, the independence of Congress from the executive department,” he said.
“The system of checks and balances fundamentally requires the independence of the branches of government and only through such independence that the ends of government are better achieved,” he said.
Fariñas added that Congress does not have enough manpower and capability to protect legislators when they perform duties and consult constituents outside their offices.
Under his proposal, the legislative police will be governed by a board chaired by a retired military or police general jointly appointed by the Speaker and the Senate President.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.