MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay courted policemen with the promise that they would not experience another Mamasapano tragedy under his presidency.
The United Nationalist Alliance standard-bearer made the promise at the 36th Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) alumni homecoming in Silang, Cavite, which he attended with other candidates on Saturday, February 27.
“[W]e will provide a decisive and efficient leadership that will respect and abide by the established principle of chain of command within the PNP (Philippine National Police). Under my watch, there will be no more Mamasapanos,” said Binay, who keynoted the event.
The Vice President openly criticized the Aquino administration over the Mamasapano clash in his "True State of the National Address" in August last year. He even used a mural depicting the 44 elite cops killed in the clash as a backdrop for his speech then. (READ: Binay uses Mamasapano to hit Aquino)
The botched police operation on January 25, 2015, was the biggest challenge faced by President Benigno Aquino III.
Better tools, more benefits
In his speech, Binay also promised policemen not only better tools to fight crime, but also more benefits if he is elected president.
The Vice President vowed to increase the number of police officers by 50,000 to achieve the ideal police to population ratio of 1:500.
He also said he will push for better subsidy and health assistance for policemen, higher combat duty pay, and the provision of a mission allowance.
An adopted member of PNPA Batch 1987, the Vice President reiterated his pledge to exempt from income tax payment those earning P30,000 and less.
The Vice President also reminded policemen of their duty to protect the integrity of the coming elections from those who may attempt to taint it with fraud.
Binay’s speech seemed to go against the PNPA’s rule to insulate their celebration from politics.
Before the program started, PNPA Spokesperson Police Chief Inspector Ritchie Yatar told reporters that they prohibit any form of campaigning during the homecoming.
“Sinisigurado namin na hindi sila nangangampanya dito. Si Bise Presidente lang ang i-a-acknowelgde officially during the program. Sila, allowed silang sumama sa klase nila,” Yatar told reporters who asked about the presence of several 2016 national candidates at the event.
(We made sure that they won’t campaign here. Only the Vice President will be acknowledged officially during the program. Others are allowed to join their respective classes.)
“Kahit ‘yung mga tarpaulins diyan, hindi namin pinabayaan na nakalagay (We also prohibited them to put up their campaign tarpaulins),” he added.
Yatar was referring to candidates who are adopted members of some batches and were also attending the alumni gathering.
Aside from Binay, there were two vice presidential candidates at the event – Senators Gregorio Honasan II, the UNA vice presidential bet; and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Honasan is an honorary member of PNPA Class 1983 while Marcos is an adopted member of Class 1989. Both said their presence at the homecoming was not campaign-related.
“This is not stained with politics. We even had to cut short our campaign even if every sortie counts because we want to be with our brothers in arms,” Honasan said in Filipino.
Marcos, for his part, said: “Everything I do, you can say politicking, but this is not something I do consistently now only because it is campaign period. It is something I come and attend regularly."
Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, a senatorial candidate, was also at the PNPA event. Like his cousin, he is an adopted member of Class 1989. – Rappler.com