Lacson wants to remove local execs’ power to name police chiefs
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on Tuesday emphasized the need to remove the power of local chief executives to choose their own provincial police directors and town and city police chiefs, noting how this has spurred political patronage among law enforcers.
Committee chair Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief, was at the lead of the call, saying such practice has led to “abuses,” with police officers beholden to local government officials instead of the Philippine National Police hierarchy.
“It erodes professionalism because instead of being beholden to the chain of command, what police officers do is seek favors from local government executives,” Lacson said in a committee hearing Tuesday morning.
The senator has a pending bill challenging the Constitutional provision allowing local executives the “appointive jurisdiction” over police officers, noting in his draft measure how allowing governors and mayors to select their own police chiefs have resulted in “controversies in the past” due to “a public perception that conflict of interest arises when provincial directors and police chiefs end up being indebted to local chief executives.”
“…[P]olice officers who want to lobby to become chiefs of police or provincial directors look for backers to get them close to governors or mayors. This diminishes professionalism,” Lacson said in an interview after a committee hearing yesterday.
“What’s bad is what if [the local chief executive is a warlord], patay na, naloko na ang PNP… That’s why there are abuses and [police officials] are used,” he said.
During the hearing, League of Provinces of the Philippines executive director Angelica Sanchez expressed the organization’s opposition to Lacson’s Senate Bill No. 971, saying local officials know the peace and order situation in their jurisdictions best.
PNP Director for Plans Noel Vargas meanwhile expressed the police organization’s “full support” for Lacson’s proposal, noting the downside of continuing the practice.
“They [police officials] become beholden to local executives to the point that the chief of police or the provincial director tends to follow the local executive instead of following our chain of command,” Vargas told the committee.
Police officials cited instances when governors or mayors would reject the PNP’s list of nominees, all of whom had undergone a stringent vetting process. The local chief executives would then name a police officer of their own choosing.
“We will lose the most important ingredient of our organization, which is discipline.
When that disappears, I don’t know how our police leaders will be effective,” he said. JE/rga
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