Limlingan: Returning to the old police ranks

THERE’S a proposal that commissioned officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) return to the old rank classification. According to a proposed bill, they would have the same ranks as their counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or like the commissioned officers of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) then, which the PNP replaced.

House Bill No. 5236, sponsored by Cong. Romeo Acop, himself a former police general, is said to be aimed at putting a halt to the confusion brought about by different names of ranks under the present set-up of our national police.

According to Acop, the adoption of military ranks for policemen would promote a common understanding between and among members of the AFP and PNP and enhance their efficiency in interagency operations.

Under the present PNP hierarchy, Police Superintendents which are equivalent to Lieutenant Colonels in the military, are mistaken to be Department of Education (DepEd) officials. Police Inspectors are mistakenly identified as bus inspectors.

One time I heard a guy who said “Police Senior Officer 1” instead of “Senior Police Officer 1” or SPO1. It seems awkward that after all these years, many people cannot get familiar if not memorize the ranks of our policemen.

It can be recalled that the said ranks was the result of the enactment of Republic Act 6975 otherwise known as the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990 which put our national police to be “civilian in character”. However, such intention resulted into confusion with respect to the ranks we call our policemen.

House Bill No. 5236 now seeks to amend the said law particularly its Section 28 to give way to the reversion of the ranks of policemen to their former military ranks.

The said legislation has been approved on second reading recently. It is also gaining support from our policemen and the military because of their own clamor to finally standardize the prefix before the names they are addressed.

President Rodrigo Duterte is supportive to the move even suggesting that the police should have their former rank classification reverted. He too, despite being a city mayor before who had direct supervision over the police, is sometimes dazed over the different ranks of the national police hierarchy.

If the legislation becomes a law, it will erase the confusion experienced by the military and civilians as well over the ranks we call to our police. In addition, the reversion to the old police ranks may elicit more respect to our policemen.

While the difference in ranks may seem to be mere terminologies, it might bring back to the strict military discipline that they were instilled before. While the hierarchy shall remain civilian in character, the ranks they shall be called perhaps shall not turn them too militaristic just like their predecessor, the PC.

The PC had the not-so-good image then because of the abuses they were alleged to have committed.


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