The bloody encounter between operatives of the Quezon City police and agents of the Philippine rug Enforcement Agency has revived calls for the restoration to local authorities the full control and supervision over the police.
In a statement, Deputy Speaker and BUHAY Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza cited various reasons to support his proposal, saying that the death of four persons, including police and PDEA personnel, provides urgency for its implementation.
“This is the symptom of a long-festering problem of the police having no accountability to the people. Under the present set up, they are answerable only to the President,” said Atienza, who served three terms as Manila mayor.
“We cannot expect the president to supervise the day to day operations of the police,” he noted.
Atienza lamented that under the current Philippine National Police setup, mayors “do not have a say” each time policemen commit serious violations of the law or any wrongdoing.
“If this had happened in the past, the chief of police would have immediately suspended and disarmed those involved in the gun battle,” he said.
“The Constitution provides for a decentralized system to promote local autonomy—all functions were devolved to the local governments, except the police, which is still under the supervision and control of the national government under the office of the president, no less,” Atienza said.
According to him the centralization of the police force came about during the term of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Marcos’ objectives were questioned by critics of the martial law rule he imposed starting 1972.
` ”It was only during Martial Law that our police system was centralized and put under national control. But this wrong system prevailed even during succeeding administrations,” the former local executive lamented.
Before PNP, there was a two-tiered police system – “one local which handled crimes committed within a locality” and national that covered “transborder crimes such as drug distribution.” “The PNP Law put in place one unified police system with no clear accountability. Accountability has been compromised. Without accountability, there is no efficiency,” Atienza said.
The partylist solon has consistently batted for the return of police control to the Mayors to ensure full accountability in lieu of the present national setup where abusive and rogue cops don’t seem to be accountable to anyone.