By Bernadette E. Tamayo | Journal Online
Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government tasked to tackle the BBL, made the pledge amid concerns that under the BBL, the Bangsamoro Chief Minister will have “operational control and supervision” over the Bangsamoro police, powers not granted to any other local government official.
“Kaya naman ginawa ang Philippine National Police at tinanggal ang local control sa police ay para hindi maging private army ang local police ng sinumang nakaupo na elected political official,” said Marcos during yesterday’s BBL public hearing.
Based on his experience as Governor of Ilocos Norte, Marcos said that while the provincial government provided support to the Philippine National Police (PNP) he could not issue any directive to the police in the same manner the PNP provincial director does.
“That is precisely the problem. It is not clear what exactly is the relationship of the Bangsamoro Police when it comes to the chain of command. Where does the Chief Minister come in the chain of command?” he said.
He noted that even the representatives of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) cannot fully explain which order will prevail in case of conflicting directives from the Bangsamoro Chief Minister and the PNP Chief.
On the other hand, former agriculture undersecretary Senen Bacani, representing the government’s peace panel, claimed that under the BBL, the directives of the PNP Chief will prevail.
Marcos said that the issue should be clarified because it is precisely the blurring of chain of command that led to the Mamasapano tragedy in January this year, where 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos lost their lives in an anti-terrorist operation launched without the knowledge of the Acting PNP Chief and the DILG secretary.
He also said that another concern is the power of the Bangsamoro Chief Minister to appoint the Bangsamoro police chief who in turn has the power to appoint or recommend the appointment of other police officials and the rank and file as well.
Under the draft BBL, the Bangsamoro police will be headed by a Bangsamoro Police Director who will have two deputies. All these officials “will be selected by the Chief Minister.” Police Officers I to Senor Police Officer IV, as well as other personnel for the Bangsamoro police will be appointed by the Bangsamoro Police Director.
To address these concerns Marcos said the committee plans to introduce explicit provision in the BBL not only to clarify the role of the Bangsamoro Chief Minister in the police chain of command, but also the requirements in the hiring of Bangsamoro police.
One way to do this, according to Marcos, is to harmonize BBL provisions on Bangsamoro police with that of Republic Act No. 6975 (An Act Establishing the Philippine National Police Under a Reorganized Department of Interior and Local Government).
He said that this would ensure members of the Bangsamoro police would undergo the same manner of selection process and the same qualifications as any regular PNP member. “The critical point here is we want a consistency across the country about the quality of our policemen,” said Marcos.