BUHAY Partylist Rep. and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza said yesterday that he supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to revive the two-tier police system—one local and one national.
“We welcome and support President Duterte’s pronouncement that we revert to the two-tier police system. This would ensure accountability and provide an effective check and balance within the police force. Giving back control over the police to our local government officials will not only make them directly accountable, but will also involve the community,” Atienza said.
“Under the present setup, many policemen from the provinces are sent to Manila. They do not know the local officials and are not familiar with the places under their jurisdiction. Without accountability and any connection to the communities where they are assigned, many cops have turned from law enforcers to crime syndicates. We have no triads or Yakuza’s but we have the PNP,” Atienza said during the Brewed Casters Media Forum in Manila.
Atienza cited the recent high-profile crimes perpetrated by cops, namely the kidnap and slay of Korean national Jee Ick Joo, the robbery-extortion of three South Korean tourists and the rape of a woman in Laguna.
“This shows that there is an urgent need to reform our police and restore the integrity of the institution and the public’s trust. Before Martial Law, the country had a two-tiered police system—one local which handled crimes like robberies, hold-ups and petty crimes; while the national covered trans-border crimes such as drug distribution. It was only during Martial Law that our police system was centralized and put under national control. But this wrong system prevailed even during succeeding administrations. Even the 1987 Constitution provides for one police force, civilian in character and another one, national in scope,” Atienza added.
Atienza vowed to support and help the President in his efforts to reform the PNP.
“We congratulate the President on his move to clean up our police force. We will do everything in and out of Congress to help him do this. If needed, we should amend the Constitution. Meanwhile administration lawmakers have started to push for the re-imposition of the death penalty, with debates set to start next week in plenary. But how can we even start discussing this when those mandated to enforce the law and protect our citizens are the ones perpetrating crime? But even with the death penalty, if they know they will not be punished because of corrupt law enforcement and criminal justice system, they will not be afraid. Let us clean up our police force and reform our criminal justice system before we talk of the death penalty,” Atienza said.