Lawmaker calls for tougher watchdog vs police corruption, misconduct

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel (Photo Courtesy of Boy Santos via philstar)

The Philippines needs a new “hard-hitting independent watchdog” against rampant police corruption and misconduct, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, vice chairperson of the House good government and public accountability committee, said on Sunday.

“The illegal drug trade in particular is clearly having a monstrous corruptive influence on police officers, and we must counteract this,” Pimentel said.

“Our sense is, we need a tougher watchdog that can swiftly carry out administrative and criminal investigations of police wrongdoing without fear or favor,” Pimentel said.

Ongoing inquiries by the House and the Senate have put a spotlight on the alleged complicity of police officers in drug trafficking, including the theft of confiscated shabu supplies that are sold for cash and recycled back into the market.

At least 49 senior and junior officers, including a general and five colonels, have been implicated in the alleged whitewash of unlawful and unethical police actions during a controversial P6.7-billion shabu bust in Manila.

Pimentel said Congress should pass new legislation that would totally detach the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“We should separate the IAS from the PNP, and put the service directly under the control of the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government,” Pimentel said.

“This way, the IAS can forcefully and freely operate without getting swayed by any consideration of the officers involved,” Pimentel said.

The PNP Reform and Reorganization Law of 1998 created the IAS to investigate infractions committed by officers.

However, the actions of the IAS are subject to review and may be reversed by superior officers.

The IAS has been receiving an annual budget of P800 million for staff pay alone, according to Pimentel.

Under the law, the IAS is empowered to:

  • Inspect and audit PNP units and personnel to ensure behavioral discipline and operational readiness;
  • Investigate complaints of misconduct and gather evidence against officers involved;
  • Conduct summary hearings on officers facing administrative charges;
  • File criminal cases against officers as warranted by evidence and assist in the prosecution of the cases;
  • Aid the Office of the Ombudsman in cases involving officers; and
  • Submit periodic evaluation reports on the character and behavior of units and personnel to the PNP chief and the National Police Commission.