By Aaron Recuenco
The head of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) is seeking separation from the Philippine National Police (PNP) amid issues of system failure in disciplining erring cops.
IAS is considered as the PNP’s watchdog as some of its duties include ensuring that all operations are conducted in a proper and legal manner, as well as investigating and imposing sanctions against errant policemen.
But IAS Director General Alfegar Triumbulo explained that the current set up, wherein all the actions made by the IAS have to be subjected to review, or worse reversed, by top PNP commanders, causes problem in the effectivity and efficiency in performing their mandate.
The current set up of the IAS, being under the PNP, also defeats the real intention of why it was created, according to Triambulo.
“The Internal Affairs in other countries are independent, they can remove chiefs of police and that is the reason why their independence is really strong,” said Triambulo.
While the IAS has already imposed a discipline on a number of erring policemen, he said IAS could have done better if its decisions against errant cops were final and executory.
In order to highlight that the IAS power is clipped, Triambulo said they could have initiated the investigation against then PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde amid the issues hounding him on drug recycling allegations.
But since IAS is under the Office of the Chief PNP, any intention to investigate the head of the organization would appear to be futile since it is the sitting Chief PNP who has the power to review and approve any IAS recommendation.
Triambulo said they are now lobbying before Congress their proposal to separate from the PNP in order for them to be an effective police watchdog.
Based on their proposal, Triambulo said the first step will be to limit the mandate of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) as either a constitutional policy-making body or an administrator of the PNP.
With its power limited to policy-making, IAS will now serve as the main agency that will conduct inspection on the efficiency and effectivity of performance of the PNP, monitor compliance with police procedures, and freely investigate and impose sanctions on erring cops.
But Triambulo said they still want to be attached with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), together with the Napolcom.
“We want to be attached to the DILG because we also want to check on the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Fire Protection because these two agencies have no IAS of their own,” said Triambulo.
“This is important because we have been hearing something from these two agencies and we need to also check on them because what is at stake is the public safety of the agencies,” he added.
Most of IAS personnel are also policemen and, as such, it will always be a case of policemen investigating their own.
Once IAS is separated, the agency will have its own set of civilian personnel in order to ensure the credibility of any investigation.
“This is what is ideal because based on our studies on IAS set up in other countries, their ispectorates are really civilians in order to really ensure that there will have no biases,” said Triambulo.
Sought for comment, PNP Officer-In-Charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said one of the major obstacles in pursuing the separation of IAS was that there is a law that empowers the current set up.
“I know their sentiments because they have been asking for that for quite some time. They have been asking for fiscal independence and they were asking for real adjudicatory powers,” said Gamboa.
Some of the reforms implemented in the past to ensure IAS independence was to have a civilian as the head of the IAS, the reason why Triambulo is now the head of the agency.
Another was the policy that those who were assigned to the IAS can no longer go back to the PNP.
“Other than that is they have an additional compensation, additional allowances which is 50 percent of their total base pay which should be given so that they can longer be influenced through bribes,” said Gamboa.