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Reveille

Who authored law creating the PNP?

/ 12:11 AM March 20, 2017

For several decades prior to 1991, the primary peace and order arm of the national government was an organization known as the Philippine Constabulary.

On Aug. 8, 1901, American colonial authorities established a constabulary force for the purpose of maintaining peace, law and order in the country, replacing the Spanish Guardia Civil. Actually, the main role and mission of the force was to assist the US military in their pacification drive against Filipino revolutionaries who continued the fight for independence even after the surrender of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.

Under the guise of eliminating supposedly lawless elements described as bandits or “tulisanes,” but who were actually freedom fighters, they organized constabulary units led by American officers in the hunt for rebel leaders like Macario Sakay, Miguel Malvar, Vicente Lukban and
others. They used “hamletting” techniques that were later replicated in the Vietnam war. It was the standard colonial practice of pitting natives against each other.

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The first Filipino to be appointed chief of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) was Brig. Gen. Rafael Crame, after whom Camp Crame is named.

When the Commonwealth government was established in 1935, the Philippine Constabulary became the backbone of the newly-created Army of the Philippines. After World War II, four major services—Philippine Army, Constabulary, Navy, and Air Force—were activated under an AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) command. The main function of the PC was to maintain peace and order as the country’s national police force. All four services were placed under the Department of National Defense.

In 1974 during the martial law years, the nation’s municipal and city police forces were united as an integrated national police (INP) organization and, together with the Philippine Constabulary, became what was known as the PC/INP joint service. Command rested with the chief of the PC while holding the title of “Chief, PC and Director General INP (C, PC/INP).”

In December 1990, four years after the 1986 Edsa revolution, Republic Act No. 6975 was passed, establishing the Philippine National Police under a reorganized Department of Interior and Local Government. It is commonly known as the “DILG Act of 1990.”

Who authored the new law?

A retired military officer and first-term congressman, representing the first district of North Cotabato, was the principal author of the
law creating the Philippine National Police, in effect, abolishing the Philippine Constabulary.

Retired Constabulary general Rodrigo B. Gutang, PMA Class 1956, was the first captain or “baron” of the corps during his cadet days at the academy. Throughout his military career, he exhibited the same leadership qualities and skills that won for him the AFP chief of staff saber as the cadet corps commander. (Incidentally, as baron, his battalion staff consisted of Jose C. Bello, Levi Malto and Ben Nicolas, who all became generals. Joe Bello, the corps adjutant, received the Presidential Saber as the class valedictorian.)

In February 1986, while serving as head of the PC/INP Regional Command 12, General Gutang went on radio to publicly declare support for the Enrile-Ramos forces holding out in Camp Crame. This was followed by the dispatch of some 105 PC/INP officers and men of the Regional Command to Manila in support of rebel elements.

After retiring from the military service, Gutang won election to the House of Representatives and served as chair of the public order and security committee. It was as chair of this committee that he sponsored and ushered in legislation creating the Philippine National Police. (He later became a member of the Commission on Appointments.)

In May 1992, he ran for senator under the ticket of Speaker Ramon Mitra, but failed to make it to the winning circle of 24 senators that year.

One important provision of the new law had to do with the relationship between the DILG and the DND. After a period of 24 months, the DILG would automatically take over from the AFP the primary role of preserving internal security, leaving external security to the AFP. However, even after the DILG had taken over primary responsibility over matters affecting internal security the president may, upon recommendation of the Peace and Order Council, still call upon the AFP to assume the primary role (with the PNP playing supporting role) in areas where insurgents have established considerable foothold in the community.

This is the situation existing in various parts of the country. As a result, President Duterte has raised the possibility of bringing back a reconstituted constabulary force under AFP command, primarily to address urban terrorism concerns. A number of retired military personnel have also raised the possibility of amending the PNP law to bring about greater organizational effectiveness.

With the creation of the PNP in 1991, the practice of sending Philippine Military Academy graduates to serve in the national police force came to an end. In the coming years, the PNP will be headed solely by products of the Philippine National Police Academy based in Silang, Cavite. The phaseout of PMAyers from leadership positions continues as they retire from the service.

Last Thursday, Gutang passed away after a series of debilitating illnesses. The country has lost a dedicated public servant. We, the Class of 1956, have lost our baron.

TAGS: Inquirer Opinion, PC, Philippine Constabulary, Philippine National Police, PNP, Ramon Farolan, Reveille, Rodrigo B. Gutang
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