Roxas hits PNP's 'bata-bata' system

By Cecille Suerte Felipe, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 14 2014 09:53 AM | Updated as of Apr 14 2014 05:53 PM

MANILA - Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas yesterday denounced the alleged “bata-bata” or patronage system in the Philippine National Police (PNP), saying there should be a “level playing field” in the promotion and assignment of officers in the police force.

“As ex-officio chair of the National Police Commission, the policy-making body of the PNP, one of those issues can be addressed with a new policy,” Roxas said, referring to the alleged rivalry between Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) and the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

“There must be clear policies to promote and assign policemen to the right posts, especially the sensitive posts,” he said in Filipino.

The graduates of the PNPA claimed they were being left out in the promotion, selection and appointment of key officers when they pass through the PNP Senior Officers Promotion and Placement Board (SOPPB), whose members are all PMA graduates.

Concerned alumni of the PNPA lamented that 325 remaining PMAers occupied all the juicy positions in the PNP while few of the 3,636 PNPA graduates are assigned to positions “considered not in the mainstream of the PNP.”

The DILG chief directed Deputy Director General Felipe Roxas, PNP deputy chief for administration, to secure the PNPA officers’ letter containing the group’s grievances and review and make recommendations about it.

“We are studying it. Maybe after Holy Week, we will finish it,” Roxas said, referring to the PNPA Alumni Association letter dated April 7 signed by retired police general Tomas Rentoy, the group’s incoming president.

Initially, Roxas was concerned that the alleged rivalry that might escalate to a rift if not addressed immediately.

Asked if an officer’s source of commission – whether from PNPA or PMA – should be a basis in the promotion and assignment of a police officer, Roxas said: “It should not be.”

“We should not forget that we’re talking about security here and there are agencies in the PNP dealing with law and order, internal security, terroristic acts, narcotics trafficking and others,” he said.

The group also called on PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima to look at the source of commission of police officers and give a premium on merits, equality and justice.

The concerned PNPA alumni said “the PMA graduates hold all key positions of the PNP except health service, chaplain service and crime laboratory.”

Purisima is himself a PMAer, being a member of Class 1981.

“Even the Class A provincial police offices are held by PMAers and only Class B and C are predominantly held by graduates of PNPA,” the letter noted.

It added that members of PMA Class 1984 “are fortunate to occupy eight key positions in the PNP while (there are) none for the four PNPA graduates” of 1983.

It also noted that no PNPA Class 1984 is being promoted to chief superintendent or one-star general but PMA Class 1984 has 15 police generals.

Upon graduation from the PNPA, cadets would be conferred the rank of inspector, which is equivalent to lieutenant in the military rank and could choose to join one of the three services – PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology – all attached agencies of the DILG, it said.

Traditionally, most of the graduates of the PNPA join the PNP.

In 1991, President Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, initiated the demilitarization of the police force to address abuses and other human rights violations committed by the Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police during martial law.

Republic Act 6975 was signed, creating the PNP, which is national in scope but civilian in character, distinct from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). PMA Class 1992 became the last batch of military graduates to enter the PNP and will serve until 2026, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56. The same law paved the way for the creation of the PNPA.

Last year, PMA alumni revived the effort to allow the reentry of PMA graduates into the PNP. A group of PMA graduates is urging both Purisima and AFP chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista to endorse to Aquino a draft executive order allowing PMA graduates into the PNP service and the Philippine Coast Guard.