Tougher police internal affairs service pressed

THE Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service yesterday marked its 20th founding anniversary amid calls for laws that will transform the unit into a real vanguard against corruption and other irregularities in the 190,000-strong police force.

Twenty-years after its creation, the supposed to be institutional watchdog agency for the police organization remains to be really “toothless” when it comes to really going after policemen violating police operational procedures, human rights and other laws.

Thus, officials are calling for it to be really clothe with full powers to instill discipline and enhance the PNP performance by making sure that the word ‘Internal Affairs Service’ alone would send shivers to the spine of rogue police officers and men.

Except for a very few, the PNP-IAS has also been the home over the past 20 years of police officials who transferred to the same unit knowing they have no chance of getting their star-rank in the PNP mainstream.     

Former PNP chief-turned-Senator Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson had noted that although the PNP-IAS’s performance is commendable, “much is still to be desired” particularly in the wake of the Duterte government’s war on drugs and the need to revisit the structure, powers and functions of the IAS to strengthen and make it more efficient.

Senator Lacson penned a bill which mandates that PNP-IAS investigations shall be completed within a 30-day period to file the appropriate administrative or criminal charges.

In addition, the decisions of the IAS with respect to cases under its jurisdiction shall be final and executory.

Lacson’s bill states that to bolster its fiscal independence, the IAS shall have an automatic, direct, full and regular release of funds based on the approved annual general appropriations.

In the past, there have been complaints regarding the presence of erring PNP-IAS personnel who have made it a way of life to “milk” policemen undergoing internal investigation.

The PNP-IAS is currently headed by a lawyer, Inspector General Alfegar M. Triambulo, who still reports to PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde.

Sen. Lacson wants the head of the PNP-IAS to be the Inspector General with the rank of a Police Deputy Director General or a Lieutenant General. He also proposed that the IG, his deputies, chief of staff and all IAS regional directors shall be appointed by the President.

What the public needs at present is for the PNP-IG to show that it is ready to conduct “motu propio” investigations on all acts and omission of policemen which could tarnish the image of the police force.

Last Thursday, a woman who claimed to have been the victim of extortion by an officer from the PNP Highway Patrol Group said she reported her complaint to the PNP-IAS last April but when she felt that the IAS was not doing anything about her complaint, she decided to report to the PNP Integrity Management and Enforcement Group headed by Colonel Romeo M. Caramat Jr.

Caramat’s men conducted an entrapment inside the HPG headquarters which led to the arrest of the accused while in the act of receiving P412,120 in marked bills from the woman.

In yesterday’s PNP-IAS anniversary, Senator Richard Gordon  was the guest of honor and speaker and led the handing of awards to outstanding IAS personnel and units including the Regional IAS 10 headed by Col. Calixto Mabugat, the RIAs 12 under Col . Baltazar Israel and the RIAs Cordillera headed by Col. Jimmy Catanes.

Special awards were also given to Major Leslie Bulan, Executive Master Sergeant Bonifacio Garcia Jr. , Senior Master Sgts. Charles Calaque, Rosalyn Pones and Mervin Capili and non-uniformed personnel Cristina Alcantara, Lyndon Rom David, Bryan Gregore, Sandra Landicho, Imee Alejandro, Maricel Amador, Raquel Zabalerio, Errol Leslie Cruz and Faith Roxanne Bragasol.