By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Sibling lawmakers are seeking the creation of a Philippine Legislative Police (PLP), not only
to keep an eye on the safety of all members of the House of Representatives and Senate, but also to ensure the enforcement of contempt and arrest orders issued by Congress.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Ria Christina Fariñas and her younger brother, Probinsyano Ako partylist Rep. Rudys Ceasar Fariñas filed House Bill 3527, seeking to revive the measure authored by their father former House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas in the 17th Congress.
“The establishment of PLP creates a safe and secure environment for the members of Congress to fully exercise their legislative responsibilities with independence,” they said.
Under HB 3527, the PLP is mandated to secure safety of all Congress members, protect the properties of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and ensure that the mandate and authority vested in the members of Congress by the Constitution, and its legislative powers remains obstructed.
“Currently, Congress relies on the law enforcement agencies under the Executive Department to enforce and execute its contempt orders and warrants of arrest,” Fariñases said.
“Through the PLP, the Congress is empowered to enforce and execute its powers of contempt and issuance of subpoenas, summonses and warrants of arrest,” they explained.
They noted that in the 17th Congress, a warrant of arrest was issued by the House Committee on Justice against Ronnie Dayan for his failure to appear before the committee conducting public hearing on the proliferation of drug syndicates at the New Bilibid Prison.
“The arrest was made by the personnel of the Philippine National Police, mainly because the House of Representatives does not have an enforcement body that is equipped and authorized to carry out its contempt and arrest orders, ” the Fariñases explained.
The older Fariñas said since the PNP and other law enforcement agencies were under the control and supervision of the Executive Department, Congress was helpless in not being able to do anything if the PNP and other law enforcement agencies were remiss of their assigned duties to enforce and execute orders of Congress.
“The reliance of Congress on the law enforcement agencies of the Executive Department in its protection of its members and the enforcement and execution of its powers impairs, to a large extent, the independence of Congress from the Executive Department, ” she said.
“Inherent to their functions as legislators and politicians are the threats to their lives. And again, as the Congress does not have enough manpower and capability to provide security to its members in performing outside duties, it relies on the law enforcement agencies of the Executive Department, ” she pointed out.
Under House Bill 3527 or the proposed Philippine Legislative Police Act, the PLP officers will have the same qualifications, salaries and benefits, retirement age and equivalent rank of the members of the PNP. However, their functions will be limited to providing safety and security to every member of Congress and the enforcement and execution of the orders of Congress in the exercise of its powers.
The PLP shall be governed by the Philippine Legislative Police Board with a retired General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or Chief Superintendent of the PNP as its chairman.
The amount necessary for the initial implementation of the proposed Act shall be sourced from the current appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Thereafter, such sums as may be necessary for the continued implementation of the proposed Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The Board shall promulgate the rules and regulations implementing the provisions of the proposed Act.