DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 September) – Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel is backing Duterte’s plan to revive the Philippine Constabulary (PC) as a component of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Duterte on September 20 told soldiers at the 10th Infantry Division camp in Mawab, Compostela Valley that he wants to revive the PC.
“Gusto kong ibalik yan sa ano, ibalik ko yang Philippine Constabulary. Yang pulis na yan, diyan na kayo kung saan kayo (the police, you stay where you are), but I will return the Philippine Constabulary under the (AFP),” Duterte said, adding there would be four commands under the AFP: Army, Navy, Air Force and PC “kasi kailangan ko ng tao doon sa urban terrorism like the SAF, iyong mga bata” (I need people in urban terrorism, like the Special Action Force, the younger ones).
In a press statement Sunday, Pimentel, a member of the House committee on national said the country needs “a fourth military branch dedicated solely to quashing internal threats. This way, the three existing service commands — the Army, Navy and the Air Force can concentrate entirely on external threats.”
Established in 1901, the PC merged with the Integrated National Police to form the Philippine National Police in 1991. Under martial law, the PC was the
The 1987 Constitution under Section 16, Article XVI mandates that the State “shall establish and maintain one police force, which shall be national in scope and civilian in character, to be administered and controlled by a national police commission.”
“Our sense is, the President is disinclined to deploy existing military forces to suppress growing threats from the inside, particularly terrorism and illegal drug trafficking. This is why he wants to revive the PC as the fourth military group with civil duties,” the Surigao lawmaker said.
The human rights group, Karapatan, in a statement on September 24, said Duterte’s proposal to revive the PC to participate in the war against drugs “is like bringing to life another monster responsible for violence, cruelty and all types of abuses during martial law.”
Martial law memories
In a statement, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the revival of the PC revives memories of atrocities committed during martial law. The late President Ferdinand Marcos “extensively used the PC as the police force in implementing martial law by arresting, detaining and torturing the victims of atrocities during the martial law regime as well as the takeover of private establishments and media outlets,” he said.
Lagman also said the planned revival is unconstitutional, citing the provision one national police force.
Pimentel said France, Italy and Spain are among countries “with distinct military services that have jurisdiction in civil law enforcement” and that these military branches with domestic responsibilities “are apart from their regular national police forces that are civilian in character.”
He said the country needs the PC “just like France needs the Gendarmerie Nationale, Italy needs the Carabinieri, and Spain needs the Guardia Civil.”
“As a matter of policy, we understand the President wants the Army, Navy and the Air Force to focus totally on their primary role to secure the national sovereignty and territory against foreign threats,” Pimentel said.
Karapatan said enlisting the AFP in the anti-drugs campaign is “a dangerous proposition, given the role of some of its officers in the web of the drug trade, sordid human rights record and its propensity to use the campaign for counter-insurgency purposes.”
It said the use of “military and other mercenaries” in the war on drugs is “a concept that was peddled by the US government in countries such as Mexico and Colombia through the Merida Initiative.”
“It is a form of military intervention which justifies American military and financial support for governments to maintain and protect US political and economic influence. It has been proven that US-funded drug wars have not eliminated the drug menace, but have targeted the civilian population in countries struggling for change,” Karapatan said.
President Duterte issued Proclamation 55 on September 4, placing the entire country under a “State of National Emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanoa.”
The Proclamation was issued two days after a bomb exploded at the Roxas night market in Davao City, killing 15 and injuring 69 others.
Duterte also cited other reasons behind his Proclamation 55 — the death of 15 soldiers in a skirmish with the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu; the “spate of violent and lawless acts across many parts of Mindanao, including abductions, hostage-takings and murder of innocent civilians, bombing of power transmission facilities, highway robberies and extortions, attacks on military outposts, assassinations media people and mass jailbreaks;” the “audacity and propensity of these armed lawless groups to defy the rule of law, sow anarchy, and sabotage the government’s economic development and peace efforts.”
The Proclamation also cited intelligence reports that “there exist credible threats of further terror attacks and other similar acts of violence by lawless elements in other parts of the country, including the metropolitan areas.”
Duterte has yet to lift the Proclamation. (MindaNews)