The Senate on Monday began discussion on a bill seeking to lower the minimum height requirement for Filipinos seeking to become law enforcers.
Senate Bill No. 1563 lowers the height requirement to 5 feet and 2 inches for males, and to 5 feet for females who wish to enter the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), as well as the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Bureau of Correction (BuCor).
"Genetically, sadyang may limitasyon ang height nating mga Filipino... [but] there should be equal employment opportunity for all regardless of height," Senate Committee on Public Order Ronald Dela Rosa said in his sponsorship speech.
"I still believe that sacrifice, dedication and service to the country cannot be measured by height nor by any physical characteristics," he said.
Dela Rosa said his committee initially wanted to scrap the height requirement, but reconsidered after the PNP, BFP, BJMP and BuCor "unanimously appealed" that a height standard was needed "for practicality in accomplishing tasks."
Officials said their personnel need to have some build to be able to respond to burly criminals or to reach areas during a firefighting operations, said Dela Rosa, a former PNP and Bureau of Corrections chief.
"Hindi po natin binababa ang standard na kailangan para makapagsilbi bilang pulis, firefighter, jail at correction officers. Ninanais lamang po nating mabigyan ng pagkakataong makapagsilbi ang mga hindi nabiyayaan ng katangkaran," he said.
"This compromise will still enable us to achieve the purpose of broadening the pool of prospective applicants and addressing the height equality as most of the Filipinos are within the height range of 5 feet," he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said a similar measure was passed during the previous Congress but was vetoed by then-President Benigno Aquino III.