Dela Rosa wants to tighten PNP disciplinary mechanism for errant cops
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) should tighten its rules when disciplining errant police officers.
Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who was the police chief during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte, said this on Wednesday during the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs, local government, and finance joint hearing on the bills seeking to amend the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Act of 1990.
He pointed out that when the PNP was previously under the Armed Forces of the Philippines, disciplining its ranks and holding liable violators of the Articles of War — a set of rules followed to govern the conduct of the military and naval forces — were more conveniently done.
“Noong tayo ay naging PNP, naging purely civilian in nature. Civilian tayo. Sinunod natin iyong due process ng civilian entities at dito ngayon tayo nagkakaroon ng problema. Hindi na natin basta-basta makulong iyong tao natin. The most we can do is just restriction in camp,” dela Rosa said.
(When we became the PNP, we became purely civilian. We’re civilians. We follow the due process of civilian entities, and this is where the problem lies. We can’t just jail our own people. The most we can do is just restrict in camp.)
Should the errant police officers insist on leaving the camp, the PNP’s hands are tied; otherwise, they will be accused of arbitrary detention, he added.
Dela Rosa then cited the 2021 case of the late former police officer Jonel Nuezca, who hit the headlines after a video of him gunning down Sonya and Frank Anthony Gregorio at their home in Paniqui, Tarlac, became viral on social media.
READ: Netizens call for blood, launch petition for death penalty vs cop in Tarlac murders
The senator recalled how the public fumed over the seemingly sluggish response of the PNP in apprehending Nuezca.
READ: Court convicts ex-cop Nuezca for murder of Tarlac woman and her son
“Sasabihin nila, kaya abusado ang pulis dahil dito sa prevailing disciplinary mechanism natin. Ngayon, gusto natin palakasin iyong disciplinary mechanism ng PNP by empowering commanders, the disciplinary authorities, whatever level, na pwede niyang i-hold iyong kanyang tao na gumawa ng kalokohan, ikulong iyong tao na gumawa ng kalokohan regardless kung may na-file na kaso o wala,” Dela Rosa said.
(They’d say the police are abusive because of our prevailing disciplinary mechanism. Now, we want to strengthen the corrective mechanism of the PNP by empowering commanders, disciplinary authorities, whatever level, to hold or arrest erring personnel regardless of whether there’s a filed case.)
Hearing this, National Police Commission (Napolcom) Vice Chairperson and Executive Officer Alberto Bernardo said they could instead redefine the restrictions for errant police officers confined in their barracks.
“Hindi nga siya nakakulong pero meron siyang confinement…Wala ngang kandado, walang rehas, pero [they] can be restrained (They haven’t been arrested, but there is confinement…There may not be locks or shackles, but they can be restrained),” he added.
Dela Rosa further said reverting to the military-like disciplinary powers over the police ranks may be optimal, especially when arresting, confining, or detaining alleged abusive police officers.
He then urged Napolcom to work with the PNP in reviewing the latter’s disciplinary mechanism.
Bernardo sought to form a technical working group with representatives from the PNP, Napolcom, and Congress.
He likewise suggested strengthening the PNP Internal Affairs Service, an independent body investigating police officers accused of violating procedures and regulations.
In 2022, PNP said that 584 of its 2,645 errant police personnel were dismissed from service — 321 for absent without leave cases, 42 for illegal drugs, 15 for failure to attend court duty, 20 for violence against women, and the rest for being implicated in cases of murder, homicide, vehicle theft, robbery extortion, and rape, among others.
— With reports from Denver Godezano, INQUIRER.net trainee
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