OH, PNP, what have you become? You have had a tradition so unique to the country but you have failed us since time immemorial. You are supposed to defend and protect us but you are the source of the weakening of the very institution you honor with a salute. You’ve had so many Oplans from POLICE 2000, Paglalansag, Pagbabago and others. You have had 21 Chiefs and yet for every rogue cop and brigand of various hues, you shortchange the public and the taxpayers.
Clearly, Oplan Tokhang already refers to illegal activities of the Philippine National Police and no longer to the Duterte government’s war against drugs. When Tokhang is invoked, it now means ransoms, kidnappings, killings and other nefarious activities done by men and women in uniform in the process of implementing Oplan Double Barrel Alpha. The name alone instills fear in whoever ends up at the end of the mighty barrel. Tokhang, top of mind, is rogue police, illegal activities long mastered by elements of the PNP.
Tokhang now is all about the sordid death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick- joo. Jee was snatched by police officers from his home in Angeles City, Pampanga, and was strangled to death inside Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters, just a few steps away from the residence of PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa. The kidnapped Korean was already dead, and the rogue cops asked for ransom still. What kind of policemen do we have?
The businessman had been working in the Philippines since 2008 for a recruitment company. He was murdered on the same day, or the next, that he was seized, and his body was burned to ashes in a crematorium, whose owner was a former police officer, allegedly a member of the kidnap-for-ransom gang. Police officers, all belonging to the PNP’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, were the main perpetrators of this crime. And the horrible details came out during the Senate hearing. Nothing new there but one thing is clear, the PNP is not getting any better in terms of doing its mandated job. The PNP is getting worse.
It does not get any better when the Vice President asks, “who do you fear more, drug addicts or the police?” That does not serve the institution at all since the bad eggs are few but comparing cops with drug addicts is adding salt to century-old wounds. That’s a collective ouch.
The PNP shield is the symbol of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), the first national police force by virtue of Organic Act 175, enacted by the Philippine Commission on July 18, 1901. The PC was later integrated into the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the late 1930s–first as a command of the Army, and later on its own after the State Police folded. The Philippine Constabulary became the nucleus of the Integrated National Police in 1975 to nurture the then embryonic concept of the nationalization of the country’s local police forces.
The 1987 Constitution mandated a national police, civilian in character. Hence by December 13, 1990, Republic Act 6975, or the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, ordered the merger of the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police, formally creating the Philippine National Police. RA 6975 was further amended by RA 8551, the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998, and by RA 9708. RA 8551 envisioned the PNP to be a community- and service-oriented agency.
The purpose of the police force is to “uphold the law fairly and firmly, prevent crime, pursue and bring to justice those who break the law, keep peace, to protect, help and reassure the community, and to be seen to do this with integrity, common sense and sound judgment.”
We have problems with operational accountability in the PNP and agencies like NBI, PDEA, BuCor, etc. And the five pillars of the criminal justice system– community, law enforcement, prosecution service, courts and the correctional institution–are not working well. Why don’t we see JELAC being convened? Why is the Supreme Court quiet about having special courts to try cases of illegal drugs? So where would taxpayers and the public-at-large go? We saw how extensive networks are still doing business, from those in the National Penitentiary to the notorious Scully in Cebu. Why can’t jail guards and wardens cut the telecommunication lines? Would the restoration of the death penalty make the PNP stronger and the criminal justice system work efficiently?
Why would PNP often say, “itatapon natin yan sa Mindanao” (we will assign them to Mindanao). Why don’t you file administrative and criminal cases and get them out of uniform? Or pursue summary dismissals? Why don’t you place them in an ex-PNP Order of Battle since you know they will end up going to the underbelly once out of the service? You know their profiles, your HUMINT should provide the dossier build-up while in office and once dismissed. Then inform the public so that we are all on the same page.
PNPA training seems unable to mold applicants for the PNP so that the PNP wants to do the training themselves. Some quarters want to again merge the PNP with the AFP so there is discipline and court martial can be institutionalized.
The National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) seems unable to enforce discipline among the members of the PNP. No, it cannot be doctrinaire only. Discipline is vital and the certainty of punishment is crucial for reform. The PNP has consistently been the Philippines’ most corrupt institution.
Three words are written on the seal of the PNP: Service, Honor, Justice. These are distinct ideals for the officers, men and women of the PNP, to insure efficiency, integrity, cohesiveness, camaraderie and equanimity to enhance community acceptance and support to attain its mission of peace-keeping and law enforcement. Big words, gold shield, proud testament of tradition. Members of the PNP clean their shields but even the luster has been tarnished despite the glow. The shield is just an appendage to a soiled uniform, hollow and all. Congress can only do so much. PRRD can only discipline so much.
“Senselessly pontificating about things does not get anything done, doing something about it does,” General Bato. Your move, sir.