MORE than 10,000 policemen are needed by the government but Acting Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy this week told the country’s councilors that the Philippine National Police (PNP) “cannot go beyond” that number, or “training facilities will be too burdened.”
Putting in her two cents’ worth, Vivian Suansing, director of the Interior department’s Bureau of Local Government Supervision, on Monday said “violent extremism” is a reason for the massive recruitment of policemen, referring to terrorism.
Suansing may have unwittingly scared to death the prospective policemen who correctly thought that fighting terrorists is not their job but that of soldiers.
Lining them up like lambs to the slaughter is not an attractive incentive for young men (and women) to line up before PNP recruiters.
We understand that those above 30 years old need not apply, among other qualifications that happily waived the old height requirement for both male and female candidates.
With Suansing’s statement that took multi-tasking a little too far, the bureau director already jeopardized the attainment of what the Philippine Councilors League said was the ideal police-to-population ratio through the entry of new, young blood.
Besides, the recruits will not only be involved in preempting the “violent extremism” of the Maute Group, the Abu Sayyaf Group and other bandit bands but also wiping out “drugs, corruption and criminality.”
Neither Cuy nor Suansing mentioned the communist New People’s Army (NPA) as another target in an omission that should not make the recruits jump for joy because members of the Maoist rebels are known to consider policemen as enemies of their revolution, just as they have always sized up government troops as such for almost half a century now.
In Negros Oriental, for example, the NPA command operating there claimed this week that they killed 12 policemen and military personnel in their month-long attacks on government law enforcers.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines dismissed the rebels’ claims as mere propaganda and wishful thinking.
Simply writing off such declarations, however, would still be cold comfort for the new policemen.
Drugs and corruption are concededly areas of responsibility of the police but not corruption, whose weeding out is the duty of courts of law and the judicial system in general.
Throw terrorism into the mix and you will have police recruits as clueless as rogue policemen who have been deployed to Mindanao to slug it out with bandits who must now be thanking the government for gifting them with sitting ducks.
Even the military that is supposed to know how to deal with adversaries “wise” in the ways of politics and ideology apparently is having a hard time putting down a siege that the Maute Group mounted in May this year.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) may be putting the cart before the horse in the recruitment program.
It does not say or maybe does not know how the PNP would arm the 10,000 recruits, 2,000 of whom will be sent to the Bureau of Fire Protection and 1,000 to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
The DILG also leaves us in suspense over what “training facilities” it is talking about.
It also faces the issue of the bad press that the PNP has been getting in connection with the Duterte administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs.
Outside of the campaign against shabu and other outlawed substances, the country’s main police organization is also confronted with many of its members getting arrested for murder, homicide and extortion and other crimes that the new policemen would try to thwart, not necessarily eliminate, but would be a shocking surprise if they did.
Meanwhile, we wish the PNP a fruitful recruitment, despite the odds.