Next year, the Philippine National Police will celebrate its 30th Founding Anniversary to commemorate the reorganization of the present national police force from its predecessors — the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police.
That reorganization was another offspring of the 1986 EDSA Revolution, which was sealed by the rewriting of the Philippine Constitution in 1987.
In 1991, Republic Act 6975 created the PNP in line with the new Constitution’s vision for a government instrumentality which will ultimately guard the well-being and uphold the rights of the citizens. In essence, the PNP is the embodiment of the State’s sworn duty to serve and protect the Filipino people.
SEPARATION OF FUNCTIONS
The creation of the PNP was also instrumental in the separation of functions between the police and the military. But the process was not easy, as doctrines and practices honed from the experiences of the war eras in the early and middle parts of the century, as well as the relentless battles with the secessionists and communists insurgents, have effectively blurred the dichotomy.
The new dispensation, however, endeavored to put things in order and into their proper perspectives. In broad terms, the national police will enforce the law — according to the the Rules of Criminal Procedure — and the military will fight the nation’s wars, and will only be called upon to assist during national emergencies, or to assist the police in quelling widespread lawless violence.
RA 6975 Section 2 clearly set forth the policy of the State to promote peace and order and ensure public safety “through the establishment of a highly efficient and competent police force that is national in scope and civilian in character.”
The civilian nature of the PNP is further emphasized in the succeeding provisions: “Its national scope and civilian character shall be paramount. No element of the police force shall be military nor shall any position thereof be occupied by active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”
THE BIRTH OF THE MARITIME GROUP
Thus, the police functions previously held by the military units were transferred to the PNP. Among these are all the functions of the Philippine Air Force Security Command (PAFSECOM), as well as the police functions of the Coast Guard. These police functions were given to the newly created units in the PNP — the Aviation Security Group and the Maritime Group, respectively.
To ensure the success of the young police organization, the Law explicitly promised the following provisions: Section 24. “..In order to perform its powers and functions efficiently and effectively, the PNP shall be provided with adequate land, sea, and air capabilities and all necessary material means of resources.”
HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
Imbued with new identity and clear mandate, the country’s national police was ever more inspired to serve and protect the nation. After three decades, the PNP has relatively fared well in its mission to prevent and control crimes. The granting of yearly Performance-Based Bonus to the agency was not only the testament to the laudable performance, but also the general peace and the thriving economy that the Philippines experiences due to the dedication and valuable sacrifices by the members of the national police.
Various innovations were introduced using state-of-the-art technologies in crime prevention and solution. New offices and units were also created for more effective police response, thus achieving the goal of a relatively more peaceful communities.
However, the efficiency by which the PNP has performed has not been equally duplicated in another sphere of our archipelagic State. The maritime territories and borders remain vulnerable. Apparently this is the Achilles’ heel of the nation’s law enforcement agency; and the Achilles’ heel of our nation.
The impunity by which drug traffickers, arms smugglers, human traffickers and other criminal “entrepreneurs” ply their trade and other nefarious activities through the maritime borders and inter-island boundaries, could only mean more work for the PNP; especially the local police forces which have to contend with the unabated criminal activities that goes with the illegal trades, which ultimately will show up in street crimes and disrupts the peace in the neighborhood.
The national police has been occupied to rid the communities of crimes and illegal goods — which keep on coming like water to a boat with holes — despite the numerous arrests and successful operations.
PLUG THE HOLES
Maybe it is time to turn our attention to our shores. Out of the 190,000 personnel of the PNP, only 2,000 police officers belonging to the Maritime Group are manning the seaports and coastal areas.
The Navy and the Coast Guard have their respective mandates to fulfill; and they cannot fill in the gaps as the task belong to the police. And despite their numerous manpower and material resources, they lack the institutional capabilities to successfully deal with crimes, and to enforce the law according to the strict requirements of the Criminal Justice System.
The PNP needs to put more resources in policing the maritime territories of our country. After 30 years, the PNP has already mastered and can effectively control the crimes happening inland. It is high time to pivot and plug the holes.
This article is sent as a contribution by Voyager@02. The sender wished to remain anonymous.