BAGUIO CITY – Members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) created by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to review the possible amendment of the 1987 Constitution ruled out the inclusion of provisions in the proposed federal charter that will allow the presence of regional security force for the federated regions considering that peacekeeping efforts will solely be vested in the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Lawyer Ferdinand Bacobo, one of the members of the 22-member ConCom, underscored that it was the unanimous decision of the members to include as part of the provisions in the proposed federal charter that the mandate to protect the Filipino people solely lies with the PNP and AFP to prevent possible conflicts between the supposed regional security force and the police and military.
The declaration of Bacobo doused cold water on the insistence of some self-styled individuals and groups in the region to include the creation of a regional security force in the Cordillera that will take charge of peace and order efforts to justify their previous recruitment of innocent individuals from rural villages and promising them enlistment to the PNP and AFP once the region becomes autonomous or will be converted into a federated region.
Bacobo explained it is an inherent duty of the federal government to guarantee the protection of the people from lawless elements in the society, thus, it uses the police and military to be the protectors of the people and such power could not be delegated to the federated regions considering that one of the established policies even in the 1987 Constitution is that there will only be one armed forces.
Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya also confirmed Bacobo’s insights, saying that the government will not allow the existence of a regional security force because it will result to more problems in terms of peace and order instead of formulating solutions that will ensure lasting peace in the whole country because of certain parochial interests that could be affected.
He said the reported recruitment done by some federalism advocates in the region with the promise of enlistment was never sanctioned by the government that is why the people responsible for the said illegal recruitment of supposed members of the region’s security force should answer for their questionable actions.
The inclusion of the provision on the creation of a regional security force in the Cordillera in the first Ordinance Act was one of the reasons why Cordillerans overwhelmingly rejected the autonomy law when submitted to them for a plebiscite on January 30, 1990 because they did not want the local armed groups to flourish in the region at that time.
Malaya advised people being recruited by purported federalism advocates to immediately seek the assistance of law enforcers for the filing of the appropriate charges against them and for those who were already recruited and were obliged to pay a certain amount to execute the needed affidavits to warrant the appropriate action that will be taken by concerned government agencies against them once the documents will be in their possession.
Malaya said it is important for the recruited individuals to come out in the open to make known their experience for others to learn from. By Dexter A. See