Lawmakers want own police force
MANILA, Philippines — Yet another proposal has been made to create a police force devoted to members of Congress in a bid to give teeth to lawmakers’ subpoena and arrest powers, and to strengthen their independence.
In filing House Bill No. 4914, Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto sought the establishment of a “Congressional Police Force” so the House and the Senate would not be so dependent on the executive branch.
The congressional police, according to Recto’s bill, will be the primary law enforcement agency mandated to safeguard members of Congress and their families, as well as to secure the premises of the Senate and the House, and to serve subpoenas and arrest warrants on their orders.
The Batangas representative noted how Congress had traditionally depended on the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to complement its own in-house sergeants at arms in securing lawmakers and the facilities of the two legislative chambers.
Recto said lawmakers also had to rely on police and military authorities in performing some of their functions, such as serving subpoenas, contempt orders and warrants of arrest.
“Such dependence on executive agencies, while legally sanctioned, nonetheless impairs the independence of the legislature and its capacity to establish its own security and operational protocols within its own premises,” Recto said in her explanatory note.
Based on her proposal, members of the congressional police will initially be composed of employees under the Senate and the House Office of the Sergeant at Arms.
But once operational, the police force will recruit its own commissioned and noncommissioned officers.
A counterpart bill has been filed in the Senate by Recto’s husband, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
The bill is not the first time lawmakers sought to create their own police force.
In 2017, then Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas filed a measure establishing the Philippine Legislative Police.
“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.
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