MANILA — Alarmed by the growing number of incidents involving “hoodlums in uniform,” a lawmaker from the House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to launch an honest-to-goodness campaign to rid its ranks of bad eggs that has tarnished the image of the police force.
Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said the current PNP leadership should learn from the leadership style of former PNP Director General Panfilo “Ping” Lacson whose no-nonsense style of instilling discipline in police organization’s rank-and-file has won the admiration of the civilian populace.
“General Lacson’s leadership by example during his stint as PNP chief has brought back the pride and dignity of police officers because they know for a fact that their commander is quick to reward those who risk their lives fighting criminals while also being just as quick to punish those who are involved in criminal activities,” said Gatchalian, a former mayor of Valenzuela City.
Lacson was PNP chief from November 1999 to January 2001.
A former two-term senator and now presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, Lacson was largely credited for bringing back order and discipline in the police force during his time as PNP chief by waging a relentless campaign against policemen who are inept, corrupt and undisciplined or “ICU” cops.
Gatchalian said the latest incident involving nine policemen, including seven assigned to the La Loma police station of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), to the daring abduction and robbery on EDSA on September 1 is very alarming as two of the officers involved are members of Class 2001 of the Philippine National Police Academy.
The highest-ranking among them, Chief Insp. Joseph de Vera, La Loma station deputy commander, was subjected to inquest proceedings for brigandage or highway robbery and kidnapping with serious illegal detention in the Mandaluyong City Prosecutors’ Office on Monday.
De Vera was tagged after it was learned that his silver gray Toyota Hi-ace commuter van with conduction sticker YF 9767 was one of four vehicles that blocked a white Toyota Fortuner bearing the two victims.
Aside from De Vera, also tagged were Senior Insp. Oliver Villanueva, SPO1 Ramil Hachero, PO2 Weavin Masa, PO2 Mark de Paz, PO2 Jerome Datinguinoo, PO2 Ebonn Decatoria—all from the La Loma police station; PO2 Jonathan Rodriguez of the QCPD’s public safety battalion and former Insp. Marco Polo Estrera, who was dismissed in 2006.
“Had it not been for a netizen who posted the photo of the actual robbery and kidnapping, the crime may not have been brought to public attention. However, the fact remains that the policemen involved acted with such brazenness that it showed how they do not fear the current PNP leadership,” Gatchalian said.
He said that there is an urgent need to review and reform the discipline mechanism in the PNP after receiving reports that most policemen dismissed by either the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) in Camp Crame or the Peoples Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) were reinstated to the PNP after winning their appeal lodged with the National Police Commission (Napolcom).
“It will be very difficult for the country to attract foreign investors and tourists when the people who are tasked to maintain peace and order are the ones involved in high profile crimes. This is a scary thought for all of us in this country because we can no longer know whom to trust,” Gatchalian said.
”This fear can only be extinguished by absolute discipline among the PNP rank and file. The PNP should also show that lawmen who violate the law are punished swiftly and with more severe penalties,” he said.