THE Philippine National Police (PNP) headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has asked the 18th Congress to amend some provisions of a law enacted 69 years ago by then President Elpidio Quirino to punish persons involved in the illegal production, sale and use of police uniforms.
The amendments to Republic Act No. 493 are among the 22 proposed measures on the PNP legislative agenda which has been submitted to the 18th Congress by the PNP Directorate for Plans headed by Major General Jonas B. Calleja following thorough and detailed consultation with different PNP units.
“The PNP is taking the initiative to pursue our own legislative agenda to which we seek the kind consideration of Congress for the passage of several measures that we deem necessary to enable the PNP to perform our law enforcement and public safety functions with greater efficiency as well as laws that will strengthen the criminal justice system and enhance crime deterrence,” Gen. Albayalde said.
Approved on June 12, 1950 by then President Quirino, RA No. 493 is ‘an Act to prohibit the use or conferring of military or naval grades or titles by or upon persons not in the service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine Constabulary, to regulate the wearing, use, manufacture and sale of insignias, decorations and medals, badges, patches and identification cards prescribed for the said Armed Forces or Constabulary, and for other purposes.’
The 1950 law says ‘any person who violates the act, once convicted will be punished by a fine of not less than P100 and not exceeding P2,000 or by imprisonment of not less than one month and not exceeding two years or both.
The PNP wants tougher laws that will prevent the unauthorized manufacture, sale and use of police uniforms and other accoutrements in the wake of so-many cases of lawless elements including New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, kidnappers and robbers who have attacked their targets using PNP uniforms to pose as policemen.
There have been dozens of incidents wherein NPA guerrillas wearing ‘PNP uniforms’ have attacked lightly-guarded police and military installations after telling officers they are out to turn over an arrested suspect. This has prompted the PNP leadership to be wary of the said NPA modus operandi.
Add to that the presence of heavily-armed criminals who pose as PNP agents by wearing police uniforms including jackets, athletic shirts and collared shirts with ‘POLICE’ markings to rob or kidnap targets.
On July 20, agents of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group headed by Colonel Joenel C. Estomo conducted an anti-kidnapping operation in Antipolo City which resulted in the safe rescue of a couple and the killing of two of their abductors who were posing as policemen following a brief gunbattle.
Estomo said the two suspects were wearing the police GOA uniforms were killed in an ensuing firefight. One of the suspects was wearing a police uniform with the name cloth ‘Gonzales.’ The 2nd was also wearing a GOA uniform and police leather shoes without socks. It turned out that the suspects demanded a P20 million ransom from the couple but later reduced their demand to P10 million.
Incidents like that have prompted the PNP leadership to continuously remind civilians or unauthorized persons from wearing police or military fatigue and camouflage uniforms since it is against the law.
They cited that criminals and terrorists wear their uniforms creating the impression that they are really law enforcers and adds up to confusion.
PNP Director for Research and Development, Major General Lurimer B. Detran said the ‘sale, production and distribution of unauthorized and sub-standard PNP uniforms, insignias and other accoutrements by illegal manufacturers are considered as serious problems of the organization.’
“The continued proliferation of these unauthorized items can cause damage to the image of the PNP which may also hamper the genuine transformation program of the organization,” Detran said.
At present, inspection teams from the PNP national headquarters are checking police personnel if they are wearing the proper police uniforms and where they were purchased since the PNP has authorized exclusive distributors or providers.