By Ellson Quismorio
Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel says the Philippine National Police (PNP) argument against the hiring of a greater number of female officers is “unfair.”
“Our sense is, it is not fair to discourage the recruitment of more young women as police officers simply on account of the prospect of motherhood and pregnancy,” said Pimentel.
“We should not penalize young women and deprive them of the opportunity to serve just because we are concerned that some of them may have to go on a 105-day maternity leave,” He stressed.
The Mindanao lawmaker earlier called for the doubling of the minimum number of female recruits in the PNP from 10 percent of members to 20 percent. The current minimum of 10 percent is is provided for under Republic Act (RA) 8551, otherwise known as the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, in a press conference at Camp Crame which serves as the police force’s headquarters, expressed concerns about the “unavailability” of female police officers particularly when they avail of their 105-day maternity leave.
“A 105-day maternity leave makes no difference in the context of 20 or 30 years of reliable and productive service,” Pimentel said.
But the solon clarified that he is not about to have a quarrel with the PNP leadership. “This is merely a disagreement over future strategies and policies.”
“We all want the PNP to succeed in its mission to enforce the law, prevent and control crimes, maintain peace and order, and ensure public safety and internal security with the active support of the community,” Pimentel said.
“Our proposal is to increase the number of women in the PNP to 15 percent of all new recruits over the next five years, and then to 20 percent over the five years thereafter,” he explained.
At present, a 20-year-old law requires the PNP to allot to women at least 10 percent of its annual slots for new recruits.
Congress first mandated the minimum 10 percent requirement as well as the establishment of Women and Children Protection Desks in every police station in 1998, primarily to improve the “gender sensitivity” of the force.
At that time, there were too few women in the PNP that male officers ended up administering to women and children who were victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
In the future, Pimentel also wants female officers to exclusively attend to women and children “at risk or who come into conflict with the law.”