Recently, my attention was called on a trending issue regarding the Maritime Group’s mandate and the challenges that it is facing in line with the Group’s mandate to police the maritime areas (waters, ports, coastal areas, etc) of the country.
The issue is quite relevant and confronting at the same time.
This issue I am referring to is the post of one respectable police lawyer, (Atty.) Police Major Reynold Villania, whom I personally regard for his on-point legal pieces of advice and opinions. Idol natin kumbaga. 🙂
Although, I personally believe that what he said is his own take and opinion on the matter, and presumably based on his legal perspective, his field experiences and that it is covered by his rights to freedom of expression.
However, I would like to provide my own personal opinion on the matter, in which some may view it to be rather non-conforming with the opinion of sir Villania.
As a preliminary disclaimer, I’d like to say that I have no legal background whatsoever and that this is not a battle of opinions based on a legal perspective nor it is a battle of opinion.
Instead, mine is anchored on the fact that I’ve been assigned in the PNP Maritime Group for quite some time now.
A considerable amount of that time was almost equally spent on various positions and designations both in the field and headquarters. The former is my experience at the tactical level and the latter on the strategic planning level.
It was in those postings where I accumulated enough experience to give me the confidence to share my own take on the subject matter.
Again, I am not challenging his views. I am merely presenting the following discussion to:
- point out that, actually, there are remedies to the problems raised to him by an anonymous “maritime group” personnel; and
- present some rational explanations on other matters that can’t be provided with a remedy.
As such, I’d like to present the issue raised, his opinion, and my own take in that order. It is up to you, however, who is presumed to be a responsible reader, to weigh in on the matter.
You may absorb one side, or take from both opinions what’s more acceptable or practical for you, or you may merge both.
Also, Please note that my opinion is directed towards the message sender, a certain “maritime group” personnel, and not to Sir Villania.
In the end, particularly for maritime law enforcers, our opinions seek to improve your job performance and raise the bar of your capability by providing you with more current knowledge sets.
Here are the confronting issues and the opinions:
Mga Pagsubok sa Illegal Fishing
Isang taga Maritime ang nag private message sa atin. Sabi niya, mahirap mag operate sa illegal fishing dahil mahirap mag impound ng banka – kailangan bantayan ng tropa habang nasa kaso, ninanakaw ang makina, nasisira ng bagyo at kalaunan ay nabubulok. Pulis ang sinisisi at kinakasuhan.
Atty. Villania (AV): Nakakalungkot dahil marami tayong isla ngunit sadyang mahirap na pangalagaan ang dagat at hulihin ang kriminal. Bakit? Ito ang nakikita kong dahilan.
1. Nasabi na sa taas – pag impound ng bangka.
Atty. Villania (AV): Walang ahensiyang sumasagot sa pag impound ng bangka. Nagtuturuan ang law enforcement at BFAR. Mahirap naman magkakaso kahit sa huli exonerated tayo.
Marinong Pulis (MP): According to a lawyer officer, actually, hindi impoundment ang nangyayari diyan, kundi seizure of vessel. In other words, seizure proceedings ito. Samakatuwid, nilalagay pa nga ang mismong vessel sa seizure receipt na isa sa mga dokumentong ginagawa ng imbestigador.
Sa atin pong experience nung tayo ay nasa field, dalawang lantsa ang lumubog habang nasa custody ng PNP Maritime Group. Kami po ay agarang nagpadala ng report at justifications (sa Prosecutor’s Office at sa Court) kung bakit nangyari ang mga nabanggit. Wala pong may nakasuhan sa amin.
Sa nabanggit na circumstances sa taas, halos lahat doon ay mga pangyayaring hindi saklaw ng tao, katulad ng storm – force majeure, decomposition – natural causes, samantalang ang isyu ng pagnanakaw ng makina ay sakop ng mga usual na responsibilidad ng isang maritime police officer.
Ito ay isa sa mga demands ng pagiging isang maritime policeman.
Sabi nga po ng isang kakilala ko, “If you don’t want to do it, you may leave the organization”, because securing the maritime area and what’s in it (including those vessels that are part of the evidence seized) is the bread and butter of maritime law enforcement.
2. GPS tools para sa illegal fishing within municipal waters
Atty. Villania (AV): Kailangan mayroon tayong kagamitan at training para masabi na ang isang banka o barko ay nangingisda sa loob ng municipal waters.
Marinong Pulis (MP): GPS applications are already available on smartphones. Hindi naman lagi lagi na nasa edge ng municipal waters ang mga violators. Diskarte na lang po yan. Halos lahat din sa mga taga-Maritime Group, trained sa chart reading.
You may also buy a cheap pocket GPS location finder nowadays online. Just Click this link.
Atty. Villania (AV): Mahirap mag inquest sa illegal fishing dahil kulang na kulang sa oras. Pauwi pa lang ng estasyon galing sa gitna ng dagat, halos maubos na ang reglementary period. Pag hindi na inquest, may harassment case ang pulis.
Marinong Pulis (MP): Merong DOJ Department Circular No. 050, s. 2012 na nagsasabing pwedeng hindi masunod ang reglementary period (12/18/36) kung ang mga sumusunod na circumstances ay present:
Extraneous factors like means of communication and transportation, the hour of the arrest, or the time of surrender of an accused, which impedes the conduct of usual law enforcement and prosecution functions.
Ang Circular na ito ay ilang beses ng nagamit ng mga maritime policemen, para i-justify ang paglampas ng oras ng pagfile ng information sa korte sa kadahilanang natagalan sa pag-uwi sa port galing sa dagat kung saan nahuli ang mga akusado.
4. Minsan mahirap mahagilap ang BFAR personnel.
Atty. Villania (AV): Kailangan sila para sa certification halimbawa na ang isda ay denenamita, gumamit ng illegal sa paghuli ng isda.
Marinong Pulis (MP): A lot of PNP MG personnel are deputized by BFAR to perform fishery law enforcement. There is also a program to train PNP MG personnel on technical skills such as Fish Examination, etc. But if the PNP MG unit has no personnel trained, in order to solve the problem, sufficient liaison works with local BFAR counterpart unit should be maintained.
5. Logistical nightmare
Atty. Villania (AV): Magastos ang seaborne operation. Renta lang ng pump boat, solved na si COP. Pag inquest ng huli papuntang sentro, in case na malayo ang estasyon, solved na si COP. Pagpakain ng huli , in case na nag waive ng Art 125, solved pa si COP. Sa madaling sabi, magastos.
Marinong Pulis (MP): Admitedly, ito ang isyu na mahirap talagang pag-usapan. Subalit, ang mga field units ng MG ay may mga alokasyon para sa nasabing purpose. Meron ding floating assets ang mga regional offices ng MG. Kahit saang opisina naman, mapa-territorial police units man o sa MG, malaking responsibilidad talaga kapag nag waive ng rights under Art. 125 ng RPC. Muli, kasama yan sa mga challenges na kinakaharap ng mga field commanders.
6. Harassment case
Atty. Villania (AV): Ang mga may ari ng pump boat ay mape-pera, mas grabe, kung barko. Kaya asahan ang sipa ng kaso- maraming kaso. Personal experience ko. Kaso sa DOJ, kaso sa Ombudsman, sa Napolcom, RIAS, pinagsasabay. Hilong talilong ang pulis. Buti na lang may legal service na may libreng abogado.
Marinong Pulis (MP): Magaling ang mga nasa strategic level. Merong SLAPP na magagamit as defense para ma-counter ang mga harrasment cases.
Ang Supreme Court ay nag-release ng A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC: RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CASES.
Nakasaad sa nasabing Rules of Procedure na ang SLAPP o Strategic lawsuit against public participation ay isang “legal action filed to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights shall be treated as a SLAPP and shall be governed by these Rules.”
Kung talagang isang uri ng harrassment ang na-file na counter-charge, ito ay maituturing na isang SLAPP. Maaaring gamiting legal defense ito, on the premise na ang kasong na-isampa ay isang SLAPP.
Sa Rules on Procedure na nabanggit sa taas, nakasaad na isang summary hearing lamang ang pagdadaanan nito at ang marinong pulis na nag-seek for the dismissal of the case must prove by substantial evidence that his act for the enforcement of environmental law is a legitimate action for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of the environment.
I remember the words of a Director of PNP MG that goes like this, “The leadership installed the field commanders for them to solve and act on the challenges in their area of jurisdiction. Each area posed a different set of unique and peculiar challenges, but the flexibility of maritime policemen should always prevail.”
I am not sure if the supposed “maritime personnel” is a PCO or a PNCO, and if the same had been in the Group for a long time or otherwise, but I am pretty sure that the sender needs to review his maritime law enforcement knowledge sets.
Maritime Law Enforcement is unique in that it presents challenges peculiar only in the maritime setting.
But the PNP Maritime Group has been doing its best, despite the fact that it is a small organization within the PNP.
That effort is evidenced by some past accomplishments of the Group such as:
- Being declared as 2017 Best National Operational Support Unit (NOSU) of the PNP, beating the CIDG and SAF, and 2018 finalist for Best NOSU together with SAF and CIDG (CIDG won this time).
- Arrest of Vietnamese and Chinese poachers in West Philippine Sea in Palawan.
- Declared as Best PSMU for 2017.
In the end, the solution to most problems posed is proper LIAISON efforts in the field level.
You may also want to buy waterproof radios online.
Recommended for you:
- The Maritime Group of the Philippine National Police:
In Retrospect of the Past 30 Years
- 10 more High-Speed Tactical Watercraft for PNP MG Up For Bidding in 2020
- PNP MG Receives Additional High Speed Tactical Watercrafts (2020)
- Maritime Group’s SOU3 Arrests Illegal Fishers in Manila Bay