AFP ‘chain of command’ vs PNP ‘line of authority’
MANILA, Philippines—If the military has its “chain of command,” the police have their own “line of authority.”
The Philippine National Police on Friday clarified that the 150,000-member force has its own structure of authority and accountability.
The PNP has a clear line and structure, under which a police officer is answerable or accountable to the one occupying the position above him, PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. explained.
“The line of authority is our reckoning with regard to the exercise of power and authority in our units,” Cerbo said at a press briefing in Camp Crame on Friday.
“Like in the civil service, you are answerable to someone in an organization, that is our structure,” he explained.
But it is not the same as the chain of command being observed in the military because the PNP is primarily civilian in character, Cerbo said.
The PNP spokesperson’s explanation was apparently in response to the statement made by resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima at the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano massacre on Thursday that there is no chain of command in the PNP.
Purisima told the hearing that he could not be accused of breaking the chain of command, a military concept, and that he did no wrong in keeping Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in the dark about the Jan. 25 operation of the PNP’s Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Police Director Getulio Napeñas, the dismissed SAF commander, had testified that he had been conferring with the suspended Purisima about the dangerous operation, which resulted in the brutal killing of 44 commandos at the hands of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
He said Purisima and President Aquino knew of the operation, while Roxas and the PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina did not.
Purisima told the Senate hearing that Roxas does not have control over the PNP since he is not part of command and that it is the National Police Commission (Napolcom) which has control over the PNP.
Cerbo said Purisima was not wrong as the term “chain of command” is a military term and the Armed Forces system of managing its personnel is different from that of the PNP.
Single line of authority
The PNP chain of command forms a single line of authority so that a police officer is answerable to his or her immediate superior, he said.
For example, a chief of police is answerable to his district director, who is answerable to his regional director who is in turn answerable to the PNP chief.
The PNP chief, in this case Espina who is officer in charge, is answerable to Roxas, who is answerable to President Aquino.
Cerbo clarified that Roxas is included in the structure since he is the Napolcom chair and as interior secretary, he is the alter ego of the President.
“When you talk to the interior secretary, it is as if you are talking to the President himself, we are reporting to him as interior secretary and Napolcom chair,” Cerbo said.
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.