Sponsorship Speech: Committee Report on Senate Bill 1898 (Transferring Police Recruits’ Training to PNP)

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Mr. President, at the outset, let me state here and now: there is something unique in this piece of legislation. There are two most unlikely people in the world to become one and united in pushing for its immediate passage: Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the principal author; and President Rodrigo Duterte, who personally conveyed through the Senate President, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, and the chairman of the House Committee on Public Order, Rep. Romeo Acop, that I give priority in sponsoring this measure. For a moment Mr. President, I toyed with the idea to have this picture PhotoShopped parang magka-holding hands sila, pero baka pareho sila magalit at mademanda pa ako.

It may be worth mentioning that Congressman Acop agreed to adopt the Senate version once we approve it on third reading.

For these reasons and more, it may be enough to just go through the motion of having this bill approved on second reading the soonest possible time.

Related: At a Glance: Senate Bill 1898, Placing the Training of Police Recruits Under the PNP

Distinguished colleagues, I have the honor to report on the floor Senate Bill No. 1898, entitled “An Act Amending Sections 66 and 67 of the Republic Act No. 6975, Otherwise Known as the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes,” as embodied in Committee Report No. 413.

Senate Bill 1898 is the consolidation of Senate Bill No. 574 authored by Senator Trillanes and Senator Villanueva, and Senate Bill No. 1834 by Senator Escudero.

In the words of Aristotle, “The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.”

Mr. President, in law enforcement, the training of a police officer spells the difference between life and death.

Our police force is given extraordinary responsibilities and accordingly, extraordinary powers. In fact, they are among the few public officials authorized by law to use force in the conduct of their duty “to serve and protect.”

By delegating such power to individuals who are bereft of intellectual, physical and most importantly, moral competence, we do not only weaken the enforcement of the law; we also invite scorn and contempt for our national police force.

It follows that for the State to preserve the integrity of its police force, there should be a high standard of education and discipline among our police recruits.

As a former law enforcer myself, and the eighth Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), I know from experience that at the minimum, a police officer should have a deep understanding of the law, physical strength and fitness, knowledge of and facility with firearms, and the justified use of force — be it lethal or non-lethal.

More importantly, this representation believes that a police officer should stand firm against various tests of endurance; not just of physical, but oftentimes, of moral strength.

Mr. President, thousands of non-commissioned officers and hundreds of commissioned officers are recruited into the ranks of the PNP every year. Despite this, the education and training of these uniformed men at present are not provided by the PNP but rather, by the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC).

As an overview, the PPSC is the premier educational institution for the training, human resource development, and continuing education of all personnel of the PNP, Bureau of Fire and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology as stipulated under Republic Act No. 6975, as amended by RA 8551. The Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) and the National Police Training Institute (NPTI) are constitutive units of the PPSC with the mandates of training commissioned and non-commissioned officers, respectively.

However, as far back as 2004, in the PNP Reform Commission Report, the PNP already viewed the setup as disadvantageous to the institution. Said report asserted that the quality of training conducted by the NPTI has deteriorated over the years.

Further, the joint study conducted by the Government of the Philippines and United Nations Development Program (GOP-UNDP) in 2005 attributed the problem in police training to the PPSC’s lack of accountability on its graduates’ quality of performance, among others.

Mr. President, the simple truth is that there is an evident mismatch between the PNP’s training expectations and requirements to the actual services provided by the PPSC.

Much to our dismay, public hearings held by the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs over the last couple of months bore a striking and appalling consistency: police officers involved in crimes and other shenanigans, such as bribery, kidnapping, drug use and planting of evidence, are the new members of the PNP.

Kung sino pa ang kakalabas lang sa iskwelahan at bubot sa karanasan, sila pa ang pasimuno ng kalokohan at katiwalian.

Mr. President, allow me to recount some of these police stories in a tale dark and grim.

In August 2017, rookie cops – or those with ranks ranging from Police Officer 1 to Police Officer 3 – allegedly perpetrated the consequent murder of 17-year-old Kian Loyd De Los Santos and the alleged related killings of Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19 years old, and Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman, 14 years old.

More recently, policemen of Muntinlupa City, among whom are five police newbies were busted in a case of kidnapping and hulidap or illegal arrest with robbery extortion. The victim of such crime: a 33-year-old woman and her seven-year-old child.

Bukod pa rito, tatlong linggo pa lamang ang nakakaraan nang kumalat ang video ng isang bagitong pulis na nakuhanan ng cell phone camera na walang habas na nanampal ng isang bus driver sa Baclaran.

Noong Hulyo 31, dalawang PO1 at isang PO2 naman ang nasakote sa Taguig sa kasong kidnap-for-ransom, samantalang patay ang isa nilang kasama na isa ring PO1 sa engkwentro sa mga pulis. Dahil sa nasabing malawakang krimen, sinibak ni NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar ang lahat ng 39 na pulis ng Presinto Uno ng Western Bicutan.

On a positive note, let me take this occasion to cite and commend the renewed efforts of the PNP leadership under Chief PNP Oscar Albayalde to go hammer and tongs against what I referred to during my watch as the ICUs of the police force – the Inept, Corrupt and Undisciplined policemen. I urge them to continue scorching the earth and eviscerate the police ranks until not a single misfit is left in the PNP. The public deserves no less.

Even the Philippine National Police Academy, the premier educational institution for police officers, is not immune from training unfit and erring police officers.

In September 2014, the infamous P2-million robbery-extortion case tagged as the “EDSA hulidap” was later discovered to be masterminded and carried out by some members of PNPA Class of 2001.

Meanwhile, just four months ago, six cadets who just graduated from PNPA were severely injured after being mauled by their underclassmen during an unsanctioned tradition called bawian or payback time.

Consider this: Relative to the PNP’s internal cleansing program from January 2016 to June of 2018, 1,787 uniformed PNP personnel were already dismissed from the service, of which an overwhelming proportion of 85% was holding the ranks of PO1, PO2, and PO3. To stress, those who held the rank PO1 comprised 45% or the largest fraction of dismissed personnel, while the other 40% held the ranks of PO2 and PO3.

One question cries for an answer — on whose heads shall we drop the ax?

Mr. President, I feel the pain of having the name of the institution I once served with pride, dignity, and honor being dragged through the mire by police scalawags.

Amid these anomalies that spark public outrage, we see clearly the lapses in the recruitment and education of our police officers – phases that make up the formative stage of becoming a law enforcer.

You and I will agree that the formative stage is foundational in building the character and instilling the values of discipline and public service among recruits. At this point, standards should be high and uncompromising to weed out the would-be scalawags and deny them the opportunity to wear the PNP badge and uniform.

Mr. President, I once chanced (upon) this passage in a book which reads: “Doctors bury their mistakes, while lawyers send theirs to jail. Unfortunately, untrained police officers do both.”

Ang sabi nga nila, ang mga doktor, hindi naman namamatay kasabay ng kanilang pasyente; kayong mga abogado na naririto, hindi naman kayo nakukulong kasama ng inyong kliyente. Pero kaming mga pulis, maaring mapatay o makulong sa pagtugon sa aming tungkulin dahil sa pagtatanggol sa mga taong hindi rin naman namin kaanu-ano o kakilala.

Ako nga mismo, noong nasa serbisyo pa, hindi iilang ulit na ring muntik mapatay – sa ambush ng NPA sa Jones, Isabela; sa pakikipagbarilan sa mga pusakal na kriminal sa Tondo, Manila; sa di ko mabilang na pagliligtas ng mga biktima ng kidnapping; at marami pang beses sa iba’t-ibang pagkakataon. Ilang beses na rin akong muntik makulong, kung hindi lamang ako magaling magtago.

I am sure most of the police officers present here this afternoon have their own similar experiences to share.

Time and again, we have heard of bitter exchange of words among previous and even the new leaderships of the PPSC and the PNP relating to human resource issues. We have proven over the years that this “blame game” resolves nothing. Even worse, this aggravates the looming problems in our police service.

Rightly or wrongly, the common tao are not splitting hairs on who is at fault; what they demand is the assurance of security and safety our police force has sworn to provide us, the citizenry of this Republic. Perspective-wise, however, the PNP is at the receiving end of criticisms as it stands at the frontline of law enforcement.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it is high time that we stop throwing blame and start pinpointing full responsibility.

In fact, we should take note that agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) have their respective training academies, while the PNP — our very own national police force — still outsources police education to the PNPA and NPTI, both academic institutions under the PPSC and are separate and independent from the PNP.

It runs contrary to the argument that “a commander shall be responsible for the training of its personnel.”

This argument is best exemplified in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) which is under the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. As the PNP is the civilian equivalent of the AFP, it stands to reason that the PNPA and the NPTI should also be placed under the control and supervision of the PNP.

Our proposed bill sought it best to institute amendments to the current system of education and training of our PNP personnel by placing under the PNP the two constitutive units of PPSC — the PNPA and the NPTI.

In our proposal, the PNP Academy will be under the direct administrative and operational supervision and control of the Chief, PNP while the supervision and control of the NPTI will be determined in the Revised Organizational Structure of the said Unit.

The transfer is also hinged on the fact that over the years, only a small percentage of PNPA graduates have opted to be assigned with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the largest portion of students choose to join the police force.

From 1993 to 2018, PNPA already had 5,215 graduates, of which 4,447 joined the PNP, while only 443 and 325 cadets joined the bureaus of fire and jail, respectively. This translates to an annual average of 85% of PNPA graduates becoming police officers for 26 long years.

With the greater proportion of PNPA cadets opting to be police officers, and the majority of Academy’s personnel who draw salaries, benefits, and allowances from the PNP, it appears logical and rational that the PNP assumes leadership of the PNPA.

There is no saying that there are no evident improvements in the PPSC – thanks to the proactive leadership of the current PPSC Head. However, this representation stands with the belief that the PNP can better serve the greater interest of the State if it assumes the mandate of the PPSC in the training and education of its personnel.

As a consequence thereof, the PNP will be accountable to the entire gamut of responsibility from recruitment, education, field training and deployment of police officers.

Nonetheless, under the proposal, the PNPA will still accommodate cadets for the BJMP and BFP for a period of five years from the enactment of the proposed measure. This interim period, which may be extended upon request to the PNP, is an opportune time for the said bureaus to develop and further professionalize their own personnel.

In recognition of the importance of the BFP and BJMP, the bill authorizes the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to create learning institutions for the two bureaus under the PPSC within the five-year transition period.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, you and I will agree that we have to bridge the gap between the training programs and policing requirements.

As the PNP represents 192,000 strong force mandated to maintain peace and order in every nook and cranny of this country, I am confident that it can assume the authority exercised by the PPSC over the PNPA and the NPTI.

Mr. President, by instituting reforms in the current system, we are strengthening the foundation of a highly efficient, effective and competent police force.

As former US President Calvin Coolidge once said and I quote, “No one is compelled to choose the profession of a police officer, but having chosen it, everyone is obliged to live up to the standard of its requirements.”

Thank you, Mr. President.