‘FEELING PRIVILEGED’ | Fariñas gets flak again, this time for ‘legislative police’ bill

September 26, 2017 - 1:22 PM
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas (Reuters File)

MANILA, Philippines — Just a week after House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas earned people’s ire for suggesting that the Metro Manila Development Authority not arrest lawmakers for traffic violations while Congress is in session, another proposal he raised has social media users questioning his priorities.

House Bill No. 6208, introduced by Fariñas, seeks to establish a Philippine Legislative Police that will be responsible for the safety of all members of Congress and the security of their properties to ensure “that the mandate and authority vested in Members of Congress by the Constitution, and its legislative powers, remain unobstructed.”

Twitter user Fighterkent responded to news of the bill’s filing, saying, “OMG, Fariñas with his feeling privileged strikes again.”

Niño Verzosa asked: “I thought we were rightsizing government?! Can’t we use existing police enforcement units?”

Mika had a question, too: “Is it just me or is Fariñas seeking to be the Supreme Overlord of the Philippines?”

Some Twitter users said Fariñas’ proposal was akin to him wanting his own private army. Others could not get over what they called his sense of entitlement.

Fariñas’ fellow lawmakers echoed the Netizens’ sentiments.

“Baka sabihin ng taumbayan bumubuo kami ng private army for congressmen, at saka isa na naman ‘yang gastos (The people might say we’re building a private army for congressmen, and that it’s another expense),” said Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano

“It would be sending the wrong signals, that would be institutionalizing a police contingent for our legislators at the expense of government. It would not sit well with our constituents and the public as a whole,” said Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.

Akbayan Partylist Representative Tom Villarin also weighed in on the issue: “This kind of proposal shows the growing impunity in privileges and entitlement. First, there was immunity from traffic violations; then there’s the Malacañang blackout of SALN of Cabinet officials, now they want a legislative police. Sa tingin ko hindi ito tama (I think this is no longer proper).”

According to the bill’s explanatory note, the PLP would empower Congress “to enforce and execute its powers of contempt and issuance of subpoenas, summonses, and warrants of arrest.”

Fariñas envisioned the PLP as creating “a safe and secure environment for the members (of Congress) to fully exercise their legislative responsibilities with independence.”

He reasoned that the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies were under the control of the executive branch of government. “As such, the Congress is helpless to do anything if the PNP and other law enforcement agencies … are remiss of their assigned duties.”

He said that Congress’ reliance on these law enforcement agencies impaired its independence from the executive branch and that their work as legislators and politicians made them susceptible to threats against their lives.

Based on HB No. 6208, the budget would initially come from the appropriations for the House of Representatives and the Senate. Afterwards, the funds needed for to implement the proposed law would be part of the annual General Appropriations Act.

Other functions of the PLP would be to secure the safety of the lawmakers’ spouses and relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity, but only if their lives are under threat.

The PLP would also be in charge of coordinating the issuance of licenses for the possession of, and permits to carry, firearms to the lawmakers, PLP personnel, congressional staff of lawmakers, and Secretariat employees of both Houses of Congress.

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE BILL HERE: http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_17/HB06208.pdf.