SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill No. 9071 which seeks to strengthen the People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) to ensure that police officers maintain a very high degree of principle and dedication to their duties and oath as public officers.
The bill seeks to amend for the purpose Republic Act (RA) No. 6975, otherwise known as “The Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990” as amended by RA No. 8551, otherwise known as the “Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998.”
The PLEB, as provided under RA 6075, has jurisdiction to hear and decide citizen’s complaints or cases filed before it against erring officers and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Rep. Joaquin Chipeco Jr. (2nd District, Laguna), principal author of the bill, said that to tap into the high promise of PLEBs as an institution for police discipline, various suggestions were made, ranging from enlarging its composition, and vigorous information dissemination as to its importance and remedial legislation.
Rep. Eric Olivarez (1st District, Parañaque City), another author of the bill, said that reinforcing the powers and functions of the PLEB is a measure that guarantees to the public that police officers are worthy of their trust, confidence and high regard.
One of the amendments to RA 6975 states that a municipality with less than 500 police personnel shall utilize the PLEB of the nearest municipality.
The present law provides for at least one PLEB for every 500 city or municipal police personnel and for each legislative districts in a city.
Another provision in the bill states that the PLEB shall be the central receiving entity for any citizen’s complaint against the officers and members of the PNP whether or not assigned in a particular municipality or city as long as the complaints were committed in the said locality.
It likewise states that the PLEB shall have original and concurrent jurisdiction over all administrative cases filed against any uniformed member of the PNP assigned in a particular city or municipality.
It also provides that except in criminal and civil cases, the PLEB of the city or municipality, where the private complainant resides, shall have exclusive jurisdiction in administrative cases involving a police officer assigned in the said city or municipality.
Moreover, if there are two or more complainants who reside in different cities and municipalities, exclusive jurisdiction is vested upon the PLEB of the city or municipality where the complainant was first filed.
The measure provides that an administrative complaint arising from a criminal case filed against a police officer shall be cognizable by the PLEB of the city or municipality where the private complainant resides.
The bill also seeks to amend the composition of the PLEB members from three to five with the provision that one member shall be a woman; another one is a member of the religious sector; another is a member of a duly registered non-governmental organization (NGO) or people’s organization (PO); and finally, another member of the Bar, or, in the absence thereof, a college graduate, or the principal of the central elementary school in the locality.
If one of the members of the PLEB is a lawyer, the member shall ipso facto be the chairperson of the PLEB. In the absence of a member of the Bar, the chairperson of the PLEB shall be elected from among its members.
The term of office of the members of the PLEB shall be three years from their assumption of office. They shall be also eligible for reappointments for another two terms only.
No person shall be appointed as a member of the same PLEB for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption on the continuity of service for the full term for which the representative was appointed. Such member shall hold office until a successor have been chosen and qualified.”
The bill also states that chosen members of the PLEB must be of good moral character and shall not have been convicted by final judgment of any crime involving moral turpitude at the time of appointment and throughout the irterm.
Furthermore, a conviction by final judgment of any crime involving moral turpitude of any member of the PLEB while serving the term shall be a valid cause for termination. The member shall be replaced by a qualified individual in accordance with the Act, who shall serve the remaining period of the term.
The proposal states that PLEB members shall be paid per diem but in no way shall be less than the per diem granted to and received by previous PLEB members . They shall be provided with life insurance coverage and other grants and benefits as may be determined by the city or municipal council from city or municipal funds. The insurance coverage shall be included in the annual budgetary allocations of the city or municipality.
The Sanggunian of a city or municipality, or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the case of low-income municipalities, shall review and adjust the per diem of the PLEB members every two years.
Each member and personnel of the PLEB shall be entitled to receive Christmas cash gifts given to the local government employees.
Moreover, the chairperson of the PLEB shall receive a monthly representation allowance in the amount of P5,000 over and above the per diem as member of the PLEB.
The operational expenses of PLEB shall be included in the annual budgetary appropriations of the city or municipality.
In the absence of a member of the Bar in the PLEB, the Commission may assign the present NAPOLCOM hearing officers to act as legal consultants with a per diem equivalent to one half of what is being received by PLEB members. Whenever necessary and as requested by the PLEB of a certain city/municipality, legal services, assistance and advise to the PLEBs in hearing and deciding cases against officers and members of the PNP, especially those involving difficult questions of law may be provided.
The bill also states that the decision of the PLEB shall be immediately final and executory. A decision involving suspension, demotion or dismissal from the service may be appealed by either party with the regional appellate board within 10 days from the receipt of the decision.
In case of suspension, demotion, or dismissal from the service, the police officer shall immediately serve the sentence. In the event of final reversal of the decision by a higher appellate authority, the police officer shall be entitled to immediate reinstatement.
The PLEB may order any authorized superior to impose preventive suspension against a subordinate police officer who is the subject of a complaint lasting up to a period not exceeding 90 days.
Any superior who fails to act on an order for preventive suspension by the PLEB without valid grounds shall be held administratively liable for serious neglect of duty without prejudice to other immediate sanctions to be determined by the PLEB.
The bill mandates the National Police Commission, in coordination with the PNP and the DILG, to promulgate the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act within 60 days from its effectivity.
Other authors of the bill are Reps. Romeo Acop, Manuel Jose Dalipe, Celso Lobregat, Gus Tambunting, Renato Unico, Jr., Manuel Luis Lopez, Rozzano Rufino Biazon, Jr., Scott Davies Lanete, Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, Makmod Mending, Leopoldo Bataoil, Juliet Marie Ferrer, Vicente "Ching" Veloso, and Strike Revilla. | Ma. Victoria Palomar