MANILA – Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan II is tapping the two chambers of Congress to reverse the decision of President Benigno Aquino III to veto the bill seeking to repeal the height requirement for policemen, firemen and jail officers.
Honasan, main author of Senate Bill 3217, said the vote of two-thirds of the members of the Congress is needed in order to overturn the decision of the chief executive.
He said 198 representatives and 19 senators had voted in favor of the bill during the 15th Congress.
"Ipapaubaya ko ito sa decision, sa collective judgment and wisdom ng ating mga congressmen at mga senador. Kaya sinusulatan ko na sila lahat ngayon para mapag-aralan nila. Kung magbago ang isip nila, eh ganoon ang demokarasya, mangingibabaw ang veto ng pangulo," Honasan told radio dzMM.
Aquino recently vetoed SB 3217 and House Bill 6203 which seek to repeal the minimum height requirement of five feet, four inches (1.63 meters) for men and five feet, two inches (1.57 meters) for women applying for jobs in the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
In his veto message, Aquino said policemen, firefighters and jail officers must be tall enough to perform their duties.
In an interview with ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda", Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma Jr. said the PNP, BJMP and BFP agree with Aquino's position on the matter.
Coloma also noted that the law repealing the height requirement is not needed since there is a process that can waive the rule under certain "meritorious situations".
Honasan, however, said the total repeal of the height requirement is needed to show that the law is not discriminating those who were not given the gift of height. "Nasa Saligang Batas na nagsasabi na huwag mag-discriminate," he said.
He also noted that many applicants with potential were not able to enter government service just because they are "several inches" short of the height requirement.
"Ang respeto at pagtingala ay nakukuha sa tamang pagganap ng tungkulin. Wala iyan sa height. Iyang height eh pwedeng pamparada. Pero yung performance - iyung pagpapairal ng kaayusan, peace and order - eh hindi iyan dinadaan sa height eh," he said.
Honasan added that many notable police forces around the world have already abandoned the height requirement rule.
Professor Prospero de Vera of the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance said in case the Congress musters enough votes to override the veto, it will be the first time in the history of the Philippines.