MANILA — The Bangsamoro bill now being tackled by Congress as House Bill 4994 and Senate Bill 2408 for passage into law provides for the creation of a Bangsamoro Police that will be under the Philippine National Police (PNP), Government of the Philippines chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said.
According to the proposed law, the future Bangsamoro government has primary responsibility for public order and safety within the Bangsamoro. The Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro government will exercise operational control and supervision over the regional police force.
“However, this remains a shared power with the Central Government,” Coronel-Ferrer said. “Consistent with the Constitution, the Bangsamoro police force will be under the command and direction of the PNP chief and the administrative control and supervision of the National Police Commission. The recruitment, training and promotion of personnel, the acquisition of firearms and other adjunct services shall remain under the PNP’s jurisdiction.”
The chief negotiator explained that operational control and supervision over the local police, including deployment of police units within the area or jurisdiction are powers given to local chief executives under the PNP law, or Republic Act 6975 as amended by Republic Act 8551.
“As proposed, the power will be exercised at the level of the Chief Minister, the chief executive of the autonomous entity,” Coronel-Ferrer said.
Bangsamoro Police structure
According to the Bangsamoro bills in the House and in the Senate, “the Bangsamoro Police shall be professional, civilian in character, regional in scope, effective and efficient in law enforcement, fair and impartial, free from partisan political control, and accountable under the law for its actions.” It shall be headed by a Bangsamoro Police Director and assisted by at least two deputies with the rank of at least Police Chief Superintendent.
It is assumed that one deputy will be assigned in the Central Mindanao part of the Bangsamoro while the other deputy will be posted in the islands.
Moreover, the bill provides for the creation of a Bangsamoro Police Board that will be part of the NAPOLCOM and perform the functions of the latter in the Bangsamoro region. The NAPOLCOM shall ensure that the Bangsamoro Police Board performs its powers and functions within the bounds of its authority.
On the question of whether the PNP chief can countermand the order of the Chief Minister, Coronel-Ferrer affirmed that this could happen.
“On police matters that have implications beyond the Bangsamoro region, certainly the PNP chief will have the major say as it will involve other provincial and regional police offices or the relevant anti-crime offices,” she said. ”For example, when a criminal element is moving from outside of the Bangsamoro to its territory, then there would be that kind of imperative on the part of the PNP chief to directly order the regional police chief of the Bangsamoro to act in coordination with the other units.”
The NAPOLCOM also can exercise its authority over the Bangsamoro Police Board, where the Chief Minister, as proposed in the bill, will serve as ex-officio chair. “The Chief Minister exercises delegated powers as a member of the Bangsamoro Police Board. The (Bangsamoro) regional police force remains under the administrative control of the NAPOLCOM.”
Meanwhile, the Bangsamoro Police may have its own uniform and other insignia but the police badge that symbolizes their power as officers of the law will be issued by the PNP.
The establishment of Bangsamoro Police is part of the security component of Normalization, which is found in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the GPH and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March this year.
Other components on security like the decommissioning of the MILF forces and weapons; socio-economic development for the Bangsamoro; and transitional justice and reconciliation need not be part of the Bangsamoro bill as they can be implemented through the national government, and guided by relevant laws such as on firearms and the like.