Women empowerment in the PNP

APART from members of the PNP Officers’ Ladies Club who are known for wielding tremendous influence and power in the 195,000-strong police force, female officers of the PNP right now are showing what the phrase women empowerment really means in the male-dominated organization.

So far, the record of my friend, retired Police Director or Major General Lina Sarmiento is yet to be broken since she still remains to be the highest-ranked female officer the country has ever seen. Sarmiento, a former PNP Director for Police-Community Relations is now receiving the pension of a Lieutenant General.

Apart from Sarmiento, other policewomen who became police one-star generals in the past are Yolanda Tanigue, Lorlie Arroyo, Teresa Cid, Tess Dumlao and Ma. Antonietta Langcauon. Tanigue used to head the PNP Women and Children Protection Center while Dumlao and Langcauon were former PNP Health Service directors. Arroyo and Cid used to head the PNP Crime Laboratory.

On Monday, a former Police-Community Relations Group officer named Ma. Asuncion Placino took her oath as a brand-new Police Brigadier General before PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde. She is not commanding any unit—she is the Executive Officer of the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Southern Luzon—but Placino , a technical officer from the defunct Constabulary on Monday made her mark as the only active police female general in the country at the moment.

There are also quite a few number of female police officers who are commanding key police offices. They include Colonel Angela Rejano of the Siquijor Police Provincial Office, Col. Royina Garma of the Cebu City Police Office, Col. Jean Fajardo of the Pampanga Police Provicnial Office and Colonel Portia Manalad, the first female graduate of the PNPA Academy who also wrote the record book when she became the first female director of the Cotabato City Police Office-actually the first woman to command a key Mindanao police position.

Fajardo is a friend way back during the days of the now defunct PNP Narcotics Command. She was young undercover officer then who would later become a Pampanga municipal police station chief and later intelligence chief of the Central Luzon police force. She went on to become a lawyer and now the Pampanga police director.

During the recent celebration of the National Women’s Month, Central Visayas police director, Brig. Gen Debold Sinas director also presented Garma and Rejano and five other policewomen who are holding key positions in the Police Regional Office 7. The five are Lt. Col. Maribel Detigan of the Danao City Police Station, Lt. Col. Emelie Santos of the Bogo City Police Station, Lt. Col. Janette Rafter of the Toledo City Police Station, Lt. Col. Clarissa Gabutan of the Carcar Municipal Police Station and Lt. Col. Catherina Ramos of the Tanjay City Police Station in Negros Oriental.

“We want to show that the PRO 7 advocates women empowerment. Women can also be a good commander. They are not just for administrative functions. We want to show that they can also do the things that the male police officers do, and they can even do better,” said Sinas of Philippine Military Academy ‘Hinirang’ Class of1987.

Sinas enumerated several reasons why it is better to have female officials leading certain units in the PNP.  “First, is the people’s impression towards women. They have this image that they are incorruptible. Unlike men, you don’t see them in drinking sessions,” he said. The official added that having female officials is also an added assurance that administrative matters are taken care of. “When you have lady police chief, the station is very clean. The toilets, the surroundings are clean,” he said.

Truth of the matter is that policewomen are being faced with the challenge of being discriminated in the male-dominated police force but given the task, many of them have proven to be brilliant leaders with good work ethics that can motivate even their male counterparts.

There are many other female officers in the police force who are out there waiting to be given the opportunity to become police commanders. I heard that supposed to be, Garma, Rejano, Fajardo  and Manalad would be joined by Col. Emma Libunao as the five female PDs in the country but the plan did not materialize.

Libunao, a former Malolos City police chief in Bulacan who once headed the CIDG Women and Children Protection Office was supposed to become the new Bohol police director prior to the May 13 national and local elections but the PNP order was canceled. Libunao was also reportedly set to become the new Marikina City police chief last month but again, she failed to assume the post.

The presence of policewomen who are now commanding key PNP posts in the country could hardly be imagined when the PNP was created in 1991. When the PNP was organized to replace the old PC-INP 28 years ago, members of the Women Auxiliary Corps were only given ‘desk duties’ or assignments that were purely administrative in nature.

However, the years that passed have given birth to many policewomen who have excelled in highly-dangerous undercover missions to get Enemies of the State as well as common criminals. Many of them are PNPA graduates who are now qualified to become police chiefs and the like, all ready to compete with their male counterparts and bark orders to policemen in the field.

At present, there is a legislative proposal to raise to 20 percent the annual recruitment quota for female cops.  Currently, 16.6 percent of the entire police force are policewomen, many of them trained to cater to the needs of women and children who are in conflict with the law or those who are needing police assistance.

The only downside in the proposal to raise to 20 percent the number of policewomen in the PNP is that there will be more police personnel who will be availing of maternity leaves in the future. Some officials also broached the idea that some left-leaning personalities want more policewomen to man police stations in the country thinking it would be much easier for NPA rebels to raid stations where majority of personnel are females. They could be wrong however.

Remember the case of Major Charity Galvez, the policewoman who led her men from the Trento Municipal Police Station in Agusan del Sur in repelling  more than 40 heavily-armed NPA guerrillas who tried to storm the lightly-guarded police facility in 2011. Her bravery earned Galvez medals and citations from the Palace.