THE Philippine National Police has renewed its call on Congress to pass a law that will allow the entry of college undergraduates or those with at least 72 collegiate units into the force amid its effort to beef-up its manpower strength needed to further step-up patrolling in the streets to thwart criminality.
PNP chief, Director General Ricardo C. Marquez said that if passed, the bill authored by a retired police general, now Pangasinan (2nd District) Representative Leopoldo N. Bataoil will provide deserving college undergraduates the opportunity to join the police force and serve the country.
“If allowed entry into our organization, those with a minimum of 72 collegiate units will initially serve as Patrol Officers, a rank lower than Police Officer 1 until they get their college diplomas,” Gen. Marquez said amid the predicament facing the PNP recruitment program.
Under the law that created the PNP in 1991, only college graduates can be allowed to enter the force and be issued police uniform, badge and a gun. Next year, the PNP will be recruiting an additional 10,000 policemen.
However, officials noted that many college undergraduates also deserve to join the police force provided that they cannot be promoted to the next higher rank until they get their college diplomas. Gen. Marquez maintained that they will not raise the salary of police recruits in order to attract more applicants since by doing so, the government should also raise the salary of other government employees.
At present, Police Officers 1 receive an average of P16,000 monthly salary which many say, is much more than the starting salary being given to fresh college graduates except call center agents who receive an average of P20-25,000 a month.
Rep. Bataoil introduced House Bill No. 2201 noting the dilemma facing the PNP when it comes to the prevailing lapses of its maneuver units resulting from raids and ambuscades conducted by armed groups in the country which seem to jeopardize the operational aspect of the organization.
“Part of the rapid assessment is that police officers assigned to the maneuvering units seemingly are not too willing to fight back using military tactics, thus, making the said units more vulnerable to enemy offensives, and creating the impression from the public that the government is losing the insurgency campaign,” Bataoil said.
Bataoil noted that ‘the will to fight, or the lack of it, seems to be attributed to the educational profile of police officers as college graduates with special concern for their future career as professionals.’
“It may also be attributed to the kind of training they received when they were new in the service, which training apparently is geared towards community based functions, including public order and police-community relations,” he said.
The proposed bill amends the educational requirements for police applicants to wit: “must possess a formal baccalaureate degree for appointment as Officer and Non-Officer except those who will be assigned at maneuver units who must have finished at least 2nd year college or the equivalent of 72 collegiate units; provided that when they finished a baccalaureate degree, they may have the option to transfer to other units.”
Bataoil also proposed to amend Section 15 of Republic Act 8551 or the PNP Law which has something to do with the age and height waiver.
Senator Grace Poe also introduced Senate Bill 1239 which fully supports Bataoil’s proposal. Poe explained that the K-12 Enhanced Education Program was designed, among others to solve the ballooning unemployment in the country by arming students with the true mastery of basic competencies and necessary skills to enter into the work force.
She said that less than half of all high school graduates finish college and even less earn a baccalaureate degree due to financial constraints. Graduates of the K-12 program, however, were assured that they stand a chance even without a college degree.
“This bill seeks to level the playing field for the children of poor families who cannot afford to send them to college by lowering the education requirement for police applicants. Graduates of the K-12 program may be admitted to the Philippine National Police provided that the applicant passes all the examinations, including the entrance test administered by the National Police Commission,” Sen. Poe said.
PNP spokesman, Chief Superintendent Wilben M. Mayor explained that PNP maneuver units more often are engaged in the conduct of internal security operations, crowd control and disaster response operations.
Since maneuver units are tactical in nature, he said that the PNP has proposed that personnel to be assigned to such units may be required to possess only minimum academic credentials of at least 72 units. Mayor also said that considering that the first graduates of the K-12 Enhanced Education Program will be by 2016, they want the inclusion of those with already 72 collegiate units in the list of qualified applicants for entry into the force.