The House Committee on Public Order and Safety is poised to pass a substitute bill that would lower the minimum height rule for those aspiring to join the police, fire protection, and jail management forces.
Approved subject to style by a panel subcommittee in a virtual hearing Friday was the working draft of the measure, which represents the consolidation of seven individual House Bills (HB), namely HB Nos. 2242, 3639, 5340, 6635, 7520, 7639, 7960.
The resulting measure is expected to become the substitute bill of the proposed tri-bureau “height equality” law. The tri-bureau refers to the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Four of the seven bills intend to completely do away with the minimum height requirement, while the remaining three merely seek a reduction of the designated minimum height.
“The present height requirement for police applicants of the PNP fixed at…5′ 4″ for males, and 5′ 2″ for females. However, according to studies, Filipinos have an average height of 5′ 3.7″ for males, and 4′ 11″ for females,” Magdalo Party-List Rep. Manuel Cabochan III, author of HB No.6635 told the subcommittee.
“The PNP height requirement effectively disqualifies and discriminates most Filipinos from pursuing a career in law enforcement. The prescription of a height requirement also violates the 1987 Philippine Constitution which affirms the principles of employment and non-discrimination in the workplace,” added Cabochan, who is a former Navy lieutenant.
Col. Maria Leonora Camarao, director of the PNP Recruitment and Selection Service, said that while they don’t recommend getting rid of the minimum height requirement, they are amenable to lowering it to as follows: 5’2″ for males, and 5’0″ for females; and for applicants belonging to indigenous peoples (IPs), 5’0″ for males and 4’10” for females.
Camarao’s position was echoed by BJMP Chief Allan Iral. “We do not agree with totally scrapping the minimum height requirement,” Iral said, while espousing the suggested lower minimum height.
Since some jail officers have custodial functions–i.e, dealing with inmates–Iral suggested that those who do not meet the original height requirement be limited to office or administrative functions.
Cesar Garduque of the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) Office for Legal Affairs also agreed that the law should still set a minimum height requirement for police, fire protection, and jail management recruits.
For his part, Masbate Rep. Narciso Bravo Jr., chairman of the mother committee, said the agencies must guarantee that the law enforcement personnel’s quality of service won’t dip as a result of the reduced minimum height rule.
“Sana hindi masyadong maapektuhan. OK, i-accommodate natin yung mga kapatid natin na pwede naman at talented naman (I hope there is not much effect…OK, let’s accommodate our countrymen who can qualify and are talented), but not at the expense of the effectiveness and efficiency in the performance of their mandate,” Bravo said.
Bravo himself moved for the approval of the draft measure.