MANILA — “The Bangsamoro police will not be a separate entity from the Philippine National Police (PNP). It will be set up as a regional command of the PNP similar to all other regional police commands in the country like the one in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer clarified, debunking allegations of unconstitutionality.
According to the chief negotiator, this is clearly stated in Article XVI, Section 2 of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
“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,” Coronel-Ferrer said.
The chief negotiator noted, however, that operational control of the Bangsamoro police will reside in the chief executive of the regional government.
“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,” Coronel-Ferrer said.
“In the proposed law, operational control and supervision of the Bangsamoro Police will be exercised by the Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro,” she stressed.
According to House Bill 4994, the Bangsamoro government shall have the primary responsibility for public order and safety within the region. Defense and security, however, shall be the responsibility of the Central Government.
Coronel-Ferrer also debunked the allegation that the MILF will automatically become part of the Bangsamoro police.
“There is no truth to such claims. The MILF combatants will not become the police force for the Bangsamoro, unless they apply and qualify as individuals,” Coronel-Ferrer said.
The chief negotiator explained that the regular hiring process for police officers is expected to be followed in the Bangsamoro.
“It is also clearly stated in the proposed BBL that the matters of hiring and recruitment of Bangsamoro police are under the jurisdiction of the NAPOLCOM and the PNP,” she said.
The main add-on to the current system is the creation of the Police Board made up of elected members of the Bangsamoro parliament and sectoral representatives, the Government panel chief clarified. The NAPOLCOM shall exercise administrative supervision of the Bangsamoro police through this Police Board, which shall serve as NAPOLCOM’s regional unit.
“We urge everyone to read Article XI on Public Order and Safety of the bill and not rely on misinformation peddled by irresponsible critics of the peace process,” Coronel-Ferrer said.