From the World Bulletin (Oct 19): Philippines: Bangsamoro police to work under nat’l police
A Philippine government peace negotiator has announced that if Congress approves of a police force for the country’s autonomous Muslim south, it would operate under the national police.
Chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in a statement emailed to press Sunday, "Consistent with the Constitution, the Bangsamoro police force will be under the command and direction of the [national police] chief and the administrative control and supervision of the National Police Commission."
According to a draft law currently being discussed in Congress with the country’s one-time largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a future regional government would have primary responsibility for public order and safety within the southern Bangsamoro area, as well as supervision over its police force.
On March 27, the government and the MILF signed a peace deal that brought to a close 17 years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao -- the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines -- while granting Muslim areas greater political autonomy.
The deal -- whose security component includes the establishment of a regional police force -- committed President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF to pass a law creating the Bangsamoro Region before the 2016 presidential elections.
Coronel-Ferrer, however, stressed Sunday that local police will share power with the central government, which will control the recruitment, training and promotion of personnel -- as well as the acquisition of firearms.
She added that operational control and supervision over local police -- including the deployment of units within the Bangsamoro -- would be exercised at the level of the autonomous region’s chief minister, as stipulated under the national police law.
“The Bangsamoro Police shall be professional, civilian in character, regional in scope, effective and efficient in law enforcement, fair and impartial, free from partisan political control, and accountable under the law for its actions,” Coronel-Ferrer said.
She explained that the national police chief can countermand an order by the region’s chief minister on “matters that have implications beyond the Bangsamoro.”
Coronel-Ferrer’s statement comes amid discussions on how the southern region will be administered once the MILF forms the Bangsamoro government.
In a recent column in The Manila Times, former presidential press secretary Rigoberto D. Tiglao had questioned the constitutionality of establishing the Bangsamoro police, arguing that it violates the provision that “the State shall establish and maintain one police force, which shall be national in scope.”
Criticizing the draft law, Tiglao wrote: “The MILF army, in effect, will simply be renamed the Bangsamoro Police, and the MILF chairman who had commanded the army will simply wear the robes of the ‘Bangsamoro Chief Minister’.”
If ratified, the law will bring much needed wealth to a region that is among the most underdeveloped in the country due to the decades-old conflict.
In a letter-protest dated October 17, filed by the Abbas Salung, Chairman of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) addressed to BGen. Carlito Galvez, Chair of the GPH-CCCH, he said that, “The PDEA raiding team apprehended Butito and brought him to PNP Camp Avelon in Pagadian City and is being held under custodial detention at the camp despite the committee’s persistent request for his immediate release”.
“This raid and detention of a senior MILF political leader and a member of the LMT, a mechanism of the GPH – MILF Ceasefire Agreement constitute blatant violations of the ceasefire accord and seriously undermine the GPH – MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)”, Salung said in his letter.
Salung enumerated acts that violates the GPH- MILF Ceasefire Accord as follows:
1. Raid and detention of MILF leaders and worker for the GPH – MILF Ceasefire Agreement in line with paragraphs 3.1.2 and 3.2.3 of the prohibited hostile acts and prohibited provocative acts, respectively of the Implementing Guidelines of the Security Aspect of the GRP – MILF Agreement on Peace of 2001.
2. Undermining the confidence building measure between the government and MILF pursuant to the GPH – MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
3. Total disrespect and dishonor to the safety and security guarantee for the MILF personalities involved in the peace process pursuant to the GPH – MILF Ceasefire Accord.
“We take this case as direct affront to this Committee and those involved in the peace process”, he continued saying.
Salung asked the GPH-CCCH and IMT to act on the matter and for the immediate release of Butito otherwise, there is no option left but to elevate the same to the GPH – MILF Peace Panels.