House panel okays security industry bill

THE House subcommittee on allied services on Wednesday approved in principle a consolidated measure, including the bill filed by Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and her husband, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, seeking to strengthen the country’s private security industry.

The subcommittee under the House committee on public order and safety on late Wednesday afternoon, after four hours of virtual hearing,

approved the substitute measure for House Bill (HB) Nos. 518, 2325, 3547, 3669, and 7037 to strengthen the country’s private security industry and provide additional benefits to an estimated 500,000 security guards in recognition of their invaluable contributions in securing the country’s peace and order.

It was sub-panel chairman and Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao who carried the motion of Masbate Rep. Narciso Bravo Jr., the chairman of the House committee on public order and safety, to approve the substitute measure.

The Bravo panel will soon approve the final version of the proposal for plenary deliberations.

Bravo described Republic Act (RA) No. 5487 also known as “the Act to regulate the organization and operation of private detective, watchmen or security guard agencies” as “antiquated” since it was enacted way back on June 21, 1969.

The Romualdez couple filed HB 7037 or the proposed  “Private Security Industry Act”, which provides for the regulation and supervision of the private security industry and the practice of security profession.

Under the Romualdezes’ measure, it recognizes the invaluable contributions of security guards in securing the country’s peace and order, especially during lockdown due to coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) by extending benefits to them such as study now, pay later program.

“We hail the panel for the swift passage of our proposed legislation and related bills to promote the welfare and interest of our security guards,” the Romualdez couple said.

“The welfare of guards and watchmen, and the rights and interest of the institutions concerned must be taken into consideration in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR),” the Romualdez couple said.

Aside from study now, pay later program, the Romualdez couple also provides for Ladderized Training and Education Subsidy where security guards shall undergo a ladderized schedule or program for training requirements by any private security training institutions or public institutions duly accredited by the government.

Rep. Yedda Marie is the chairperson of the House committee on the welfare of children while Majority Romualdez is the chairman of the powerful House committee on rules.

Joining them in filing the bill is Trade Union Congress of the Philippine (TUCP) party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza. 

“Private security agencies have been (instrumental) during the lockdown in the implementation of health protocols in workplaces and public places to control the virus. Security guards are essential workers, they’re frontliners,” Mendoza said in his sponsorship speech before the subcommittee.

“Security guards are credited by the PNP (Philippine National Police) as force multipliers in areas where it has limited personnel and unable to send mobile cars for regular patrols,” Mendoza said.

Deputy Majority Leader and Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter “Sharky” Wee Palma II said he will co-author the Romualdezes’ measure.

“We have to ensure a safe and healthful working conditions and promote gender-sensitive measures in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs affecting the local security work. Let’s train them on proper gun safety and boost their actual training,” said Palma.

San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan Rep. Florida “Rida” Robes, principal author of HB No. 3547, said “Despite these laws and administrative orders, rampant violations of the same committed by private security agencies have been documented wherein the security guards/ personnel are (disadvantaged).”

“What is lacking right now is an Act or law with more teeth, so to speak. One that imposes a penalty of imprisonment to demand stricter compliance from the private security agencies,” Robles stressed.

Under the substitute bill, the penal provision states that any private security agency, which violates any provision of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines and other existing penal laws shall be held liable.