The head of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) supported a proposed bill that seeks to make the agency independent of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the setup in other countries like the United States that makes it more effective in combatting malpractices among men in uniform.
Lawyer Alfegar Triambulo, director of IAS, said they have been meaning to ask lawmakers to pass a law that will strengthen the agency, including its independence from the PNP and the power to launch both criminal and administrative investigations against rogue cops.
Triambulo added that they also want mechanisms that would enable them to give better protection to witnesses against corrupt police officers.
“Maraming gustong magsalita laban sa katiwalian sa pulis natin, pero natatakot kasi wala nga kaming ibinibigay na proteksyon sa kanila,” Triambulo said in an interview with radio station DZMM on Wednesday (October 16).
He added: ”Aming isinusulong na maging independent katulad ng mga IAS na aming napuntahan sa ibang bansa kaya sila ay matibay at kinatatakutan ng mga police organization.”
Last October 15, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles called on fellow lawmakers to expedite the approval of proposals seeking to separate the IAS from the PNP chain-of-command.
Nograles said an independent IAS is needed now more than ever due to the diminished integrity of the existing IAS amid allegations of a cover-up by top police officials on the wrongdoings of their subordinates in the so-called “ninja cops” controversy.
The IAS currently reports to the PNP chief, as it is an essential part of the disciplinary mechanism of the organization. “It means that the IAS, based on their findings, can only recommend an action to the PNP chief. There is a flaw in the procedure because the IAS is only a recommendatory body, they have no prosecutorial powers,” Nograles said.
“As the office that oversees the conduct of the uniformed personnel, the IAS should be free from influence, pressure, and intervention from the chief PNP, and other high-ranking PNP officers in adjudicating administrative cases,” he added.
The lawmaker said if the IAS becomes independent, the recommendations of the agency will be given more importance. “I also want to give them prosecutorial powers para sila na mismo ang totoong magpu-pulis sa mga pulis (so that the IAS itself will truly police the police).”
Nograles filed House Bill 3065, seeking the removal of IAS from the supervision and control of the PNP chief. It aims to transfer the agency under the direct supervision of the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government.
Apart from investigating and adjudicating administrative wrongdoings of PNP personnel, the proposed measure also seeks to empower the IAS to have recommendatory powers in the selection and promotion of PNP personnel, including the PNP chief. The IAS could also provide assistance to the Office of the Ombudsman and other PNP Disciplinary Offices in cases involving PNP personnel. It can also recommend the admission to the witness protection program of the Department of Justice of witnesses who are vital to the prosecution of PNP personnel involved in criminal cases.
Triambulo said the IAS in the country is not feared by rogue police officers because of its current structure, unlike in other jurisdictions.