MANILA – Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Friday urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to increase the country’s police force to 200,000 by hiring 50,000 more policemen to strengthen the campaign against criminality.
”“If I may give an unsolicited advice, I think the President should announce a massive policemen recruitment program in his second-to-the-last SONA (Statement of the Nation Address),” Angara said.
“It will send a comforting message to the nation that more men are being suited up to roll back crime,” the neophyte senator emphasized.
Angara said his suggestion would increase the cop-to-population ratio to the ideal one per 500 persons.
“With a current population of 100 million, the country needs about 200,000 policemen, but the authorized ‘uniformed personnel ceiling’ of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is only around 151,410,” Angara stressed.
Last year, a total of 1,033,833 crimes were reported to the police, which Angara said could just be fraction of the total as more victims, skeptic perhaps that the culprits will not be caught, opted not to report to the police what they had experienced.
“Understated the data may be, it still paints a scary picture: One is murdered every hour, a robbery is committed every 10 minutes, someone is raped every 72 minutes, a theft is happening every three and half minutes,” he said.
Angara said President Aquino’s SONA announcement can be followed through with a request in the 2015 national budget, which the President must submit to Congress within a month after his July 28 speech, for funds to hire the initial batch of rookies.
He proposed that 25,000 policemen be hired in 2015 and the same number in 2016.
“The initial cost of hiring 25,000 new cops, assuming they will join the service in the second half of the year, is about P5 billion,” Angara said.
Angara noted that the number of recruits can be pared down.
“Of course, there is the question of funding. We can then downscale the quota and stretch the recruitment period. What is important is to assuage the people that more cops are coming,” he said.
Angara stressed that the one policeman for every 500 population ratio “is not an option but a mandate of law, by Republic Act No. 6975, the 1989 law creating the Department of Interior and Local Government.”
But a quarter of a century since it was passed, the policeman-to-population ratio, which on paper currently stands at one per 675, has never been achieved, Angara pointed out.
In addition to hiring more policemen, the PNP can maximize its force by “unshackling police officers from their desks, and handing over administrative duties to non-uniformed personnel (NUP),” Angara said.
In a bid to free police officers who should be pounding beats instead of doing paper work, the PNP is hiring 13,000 NUPs this year.
Angara said the Philippine ratio of one policeman to 675 population does not translate to the actual number of cops on duty at any given time.