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PNP officer-in-charge Gamboa pledges independence for IAS

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Archie Gamboa "pledged" on Wednesday, November 20, to grant a new level of independence to the police's in-house discipline and probing body, the Internal Affairs Service (IAS).

During the Senate's interpellation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)'s P237.99-billion budget for 2020, Gamboa said through their budget's sponsor Senator Sonny Angara that he pledged not to "overrule" decisions recommended by the IAS.

Angara was reacting to Senate President Vicente Sotto III lamenting that the IAS's recommendations could be overruled by the PNP chief.

"Not anymore, [as] pledged by OIC chief Gamboa, sir," Angara responded.

Why this matters: The IAS is ideally the first office to spot violations of delinquent cops as it is attached to most police offices. If it finds any wrongdoing, it has the power to recommend for the suspension and dismissal of erring cops. But these decisions still need the approval of the top cop.

The office has stepped into the spotlight under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte as allegations pile up against cops allegedly going rogue in the massive anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Accepting the IAS's recommendation as executory would exhibit a recognition by the top police official that the disciplining service is independent from the 190,000-strong police force, where even a top cop has been found to have kept questionable and possibly even criminal relationships.

Why the commitment? Senate President Sotto then asked top DILG and police officials: "Isn't it time for the Internal Affairs Service to be separated from the PNP and have an independent status?"

Sotto said that the IAS could have executed an investigation into former police chief Oscar Albayalde, who has been accused of coddling anti-drug agents accused of keeping drugs they seized from suspects.

Angara said the DILG and the PNP are currently holding meetings through a technical working group, studying the best steps to take to empower the IAS.

The Senate President advised the DILG to back a bill by Senator Panfilo Lacson which would mandate that all IAS recommendations be final and executory. He was referring to Lacson's proposed law, Senate Bill 1310, which languished at the committee level in the previous Congress. It is unclear whether the same bill has been refiled and if it would prosper this time in Congress. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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