Sinas still wants PNP to handle internal investigation arm

Published February 23, 2021, 10:52 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Debold Sinas maintained that the country’s police institution should keep its supervision over the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) despite moves from lawmakers to make it independent.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Debold Sinas

Sinas’ position was relayed by his representative before the House Committee on Public Order and Safety approved on Tuesday, February 23, the substitute bill on the proposals seeking to strengthen the IAS and transfer it from the PNP to the National Police Commission (Napolcom).

“[The PNP] fully supports the substitute bill except that the the PNP has reservation with regard to who will supervise the IAS. The chief PNP, in his position paper, has stated that he wanted the IAS to remain with the PNP, under the Philippine National Police,” said Police Lt. Col. Donna Villareal of the PNP’s Directorate for Personnel and Records Management.

Considered as the PNP’s watchdog, the IAS is in charge of investigating complaints and gathering evidence against erring policemen for the filing of administrative and criminal charges. It also investigates whether or not established rules and procedures have been violated by members of the PNP.

While identifying itself as an “independent and autonomous” unit of the PNP, all the actions made by the IAS have to be subjected to review of top PNP commanders.

Committee chairperson Masbate Representative Narciso Bravo Jr. rejected Sinas’ reservation.

“We fully understand the position of the chief PNP, as a matter of fact, it is the most contentious issue regarding this bill…but this measure would like to somehow try to reorganize or reform the IAS, in such a way that the IAS will become more independent of the PNP,” he said.

“We cannot submit to the idea that the chief PNP remains as the chief supervisor of the IAS.”

Bravo said the proposed transfer of the IAS to the Napolcom will prevent the so-called “bata-bata” system, or nepotism and favoritism, in the police force.

“Alam naman natin na meron dyan. Kung mayroong mga kasalanang nagagawa ‘yong mga abusadong pulis, minsan naaabsuwelto dahil ‘yong mga boss nila, eh nasa mga very influential positions na ‘yon ang nagdedecide kung iko-convict o i-aabsuwelto ang isang adusadong pulis (We all know that it’s prevalent in the PNP. That if abusive policemen commit a crime, they end up being acquitted because their bosses are in very influential positions and are the ones deciding whether to convict or acquit them),” Bravo said.

“Dahil hiniwalay na natin ‘yong IAS…I guess hindi na ‘yong direktang in control ang mga opisyal doon sa kanilang mga subordinates (But since we are separating the IAS, I guess the officials are no longer in control of their subordinates),” he added.

Bravo cited the viral case of Parañaque City cop Jonel Nuezca, who shot dead Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank last December in front of his young daughter.

Nuezca previously faced administrative charges, including two homicide cases, but still remained in the PNP’s ranks.

Bravo said the bill will help improve the integrity and public trust in the PNP. “The result is a better PNP that would truly serve and protect the people,” said the congressman, alluding to the PNP’s slogan.

Meanwhile, IAS chief Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo lauded the House bill.

“Indeed, the reform and reorganization of the Internal Affairs Service into a full-fledged, fully-functioning and independent agency is long overdue,” Triambulo told the panel.

“We welcome the bill, and hope for its passage soonest,” he added.

Besides Sinas’ reservation, Villareal said the PNP “fully supports” the rest of the substitute bill.