THE Philippine National Police leadership has warned anew manufacturers, dealers and distributors of fake police uniforms and other accoutrement that they face arrest and prosecution once identified and arrested.
The warning was aired in the wake of continuing reports on the presence of criminals as well as New People’s Army rebels posing as cops by wearing t-shirts with ‘POLICE’ markings and other PNP uniforms each time they hit a target particularly during the coming Christmas season.
As a result, the PNP leadership has ordered stricter enforcement of applicable laws and regulations to curb the proliferation of unauthorized sellers, manufacturers, and distributors of police uniforms and accoutrements, many of them being used by lawless elements in Metro Manila and the countryside.
In a previous directive, PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde asked his men nationwide to fully implement the PNP directive on ‘Tamang Bihis’ to prevent criminals and even the NPA and Southern Philippines-based terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Groups from buying unauthorized police and military uniforms which are rampantly sold in the streets.
These apparels are being used by lawless elements to pose as ‘cops or soldiers’ each time they conduct criminal attacks or surprise raids on government facilities.
The PNP leadership also ordered a crackdown on stores known for selling sub-standard PNP uniforms outside Camp Crame and other police camps nationwide and unauthorized persons using police shirts and other materials.
“This is a massive campaign to stop the illegal activities of suppliers and manufacturers of sub-standard police uniforms, individual accoutrements and other paraphernalia,” said PNP spokesman, Chief Superintendent Benigno B. Durana Jr.
The program also aims to prevent the proliferation of civilians posing as cops by wearing PNP uniforms, t-shirts and jackets which can be easily bought from unauthorized stores.
Charges for usurpation of authority and unlawful use of insignias can be filed against non-PNP personnel found wearing police uniforms. Policemen found wearing improper uniforms also face administrative charges
Officials said the unmitigated proliferation of unauthorized PNP uniforms, insignias and other accoutrements made of inferior materials is largely due to their availability in the open market, mostly sold by enterprising unaccredited suppliers and dealers.
The PNP Directorate for Research and Development and the PNP Directorate for Police-Community Relations reiterated the strict implementation of PNP Letter of Instruction 09/06 or ‘Tamang Bihis Alpha’ in line with the PNP chief’s instructions.
In the past, NPA rebels have gained access to police and military detachments and other targets by wearing police uniforms and posing as officers out to coordinate their mission in a particular area.
The new order reinforces the courses of action that will guide the Task Force “Bantay-Bihis” and other PNP units in implementing it, he said.
The memorandum underscored the fact that PNP uniforms with patches and seals are being used by some criminals and other civilians to usurp authority and take advantage of other persons in the streets, all incidents which contribute to the negative image of the force and hampers its programs to gain the trust and confidence of the public.
In 2000, Executive Order No. 297 was issued prohibiting the unauthorized manufacture, sale, distribution and use of uniforms, insignias, and other accoutrements of the PNP.
The EO reinforced Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code (Republic Act 3815) which penalizes “any person who shall publicly and improperly make use of insignia, uniforms or dress pertaining to an office not held by such person or to a class or persons of which he or she is not a member.”
EO 297 also ordered the “immediate closure of the establishment, plant or office where the uniforms and other items are illegally manufactured, stored, sold or distributed.”
The PNP-DRD said that most of the PNP uniforms and accoutrements are already registered with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) to safeguard the ownership of the PNP on its patented designs.
Officials explained that the registration is an effective measure to stop the illegal production of substandard and unauthorized uniforms by illegal manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and sellers which is prohibited under Republic Act 8293 otherwise known as ‘Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines’.
The PNP also has already accredited persons and entities to manufacture, sell, and distribute PNP uniforms and accoutrements given the rights and privileges as authorized and exclusive distributors.