Press Release
September 26, 2023

Sponsorship Speech
Senate Bill No. 2449/ Committee Report No. 137

An Act Providing Organizational Reforms in The Philippine National Police, Amending For The Purpose Republic Act No. 6975, Otherwise Known As The "Department Of The Interior And Local Government Act Of 1990", As Amended, And For Other Purposes

Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, good afternoon to you all.

American Speaker Earl Nightingale once wisely said: "Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put [that] passing time to the best possible use."

Today, I stand before you to champion Senate Bill No. 2449 under Committee Report No. 137 - a bill that seeks to institute transformative organizational reforms within the Philippine National Police. These reforms will amend Republic Act No. 6975, also known as the "Department of Interior and Local Government Act of 1990," as well as Republic Act No. 8551, known as the "Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998."

The core issue at hand, Mr. President, is not merely a matter of time but a matter of urgency. For time is always, always of the essence.

In 1998, the "Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act was enacted as response to the pressing need for change within the PNP. Now, in 2023, we find ourselves standing at a juncture where the echoes of the very need continue to reverberate. Over two and half decades have passed since Congress mandated this reform, and the PNP still languishes without the restructuring it so profoundly requires.

Today, we must seize this opportunity to usher in a new era - an era of rejuvenated purpose and excellence for the Philippine National Police.

While the proposed measure encompasses a multitude of reforms, allow me to underscore a few pivotal features of this bill.

Firstly, we are reorganizing the organizational structure of the Philippine National Police based on the need of the organization and community and anchored with the appropriate National Police Commission Resolutions. We introduced in this proposed bill the institutionalization of the following offices created by the NAPOLCOM: Directorial Staff, Area Police Command, Special Offices, and strengthened National Administrative and Operational Support Units.

Secondly, we confront the vexing issue of undue influence in the appointments of Chief of Police positions within provincial governments, cities, and municipalities. Presently, the authority to select Chiefs of [Police] rests with Local Chief Executives - a system that, at times, has opened the door to political patronage and unwarranted influence.

Hindi na lingid sa kaalaman ng iba na kahit noong kasisimula pa lamang ng Nineteenth Congress, nakailang hearing na rin ang aking komite tungkol sa pamamaslang, opagtangkang pagpaslang ng mga public official. In each one of these hearings, we were able to identify a common denominator, which may also be interpreted as a weakness in the composition of PNP.

Sa ating mga provincial government, mga lungsod, at munisipalidad, ang kapangyarihang pumili kung sino ang mamumuno bilang Chief of Police ay nasa kamay ng Local Chief Executive. What is the problem with this setup? It becomes an opportunity for utang na loob, which, under normal circumstances, can even be considered a Filipino virtue. But within the context of politics, and as we have witnessed time and again, utang na loob is a very dangerous thing, Mr. President. Upang tugunan ang problemang ito, nililipat ng ating panukalang batas ang kapangyarihang pumili ng Chief of Police. Hindi na natin ipauubaya sa ating mga mayor o governor, sa halip ay ililipat na natin iyan sa mga kamay ng PNP Chief.

To rectify this systemic flaw, our legislation seeks to transfer the power to designate Chiefs of Police from mayors and governors to the PNP Chief. This change represents a resolute stance in safeguarding the integrity of these appointments.

Concurrently, we uphold the sacrosanct principle of local autonomy, ensuring that Local Government Units retain operational supervision and control over PNP units within the purview once the Chief of Police has been nominated by the PNP Chief.

Thirdly, we embark on a path to elevate the status and treatment of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) and its dedicated cadets. The PNPA serves as the vanguard of police education and the primary wellspring from which police lieutenants emerge. Under this legislation, cadets shall be accorded the prestigious title of Police cadets, endowed with salaries, benefits, and emoluments commensurate with police executive master sergeant. This transformation not only recognizes their unwavering commitment but also propels them toward excellence.

Fourthly, under this measure, we align the compulsory age of retirement for the PNP with that of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), setting it at fifty-seven (57) years of age. This synchronicity ensures uniformity in the rules that govern those (who) protect us within our borders and those who safeguard us from external threats.

Lastly, through this bill, we shall be addressing the perennial problem encountered by the PNP leadership, particularly on some rogue members of the police force. Under this bill, the Chief of the PNP shall have the authority to immediately order the preventive confinement of erring PNP personnel. While being investigated and/or charged with a crime, they may be put in a place of confinement which shall be limited to barracks, quarters, or in a designated facility, similar to the military. This authority may also be exercised by the Area Police Commanders, Regional Directors, Provincial Directors, District Directors, and concerned Chiefs of Police. I daresay that this is a bold move in the right direction, fostering better discipline and responsibility within the PNP.

At this point, Mr. President, please allow me to recognize those who continue to tirelessly push for this legislation: the DILG, headed by the Secretary himself, Secretary Benjur Abalos, the PNP, led by no less than the PNP Chief, PGen. Benjamin Acorda, Jr., and of course, the NAPOLCOM, led by Commissioners Ricardo Bernabe III and Edilberto Leonardo. Their presence today, as this bill gets through the period of sponsorship, is proof of how much they support its passage. And of course, their willingness to help me hurdle interpellation and debates. Ngayon pa lang, nagpapasalamat na ako sa kanilang tulong at suporta upang maisabatas na ang panukalang ito.

For a quarter of a century, the Philippine National Police has waited patiently for the much needed reforms and reorganization they justly deserve. The time has arrived for decisive action, for bold change, and for unwavering commitment. Rather than dreading the onset of change, let us embrace it as a unique opportunity - an opportunity that will not only elevate our PNP but also fortify the communities they have solemnly sworn to serve and protect.

Mr. President, this legislative measure is long overdue. Consistent with the principles of innovation and enhanced accountability of the PNP, this bill is sponsored to ensure that our police force is better equipped to address contemporary challenges, uphold the rule of law, protect the rights of our dear citizens, and maintain public trust.

Daghang Salamat, Mr. President, and let us embark together on this transformative journey towards a better, stronger, and more capable Philippine National Police.

Maraming salamat, Mr. President.

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