Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros took accountability when some Filipinos called her out for initially backing Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa‘s proposed bill to increase the number of female officers in the police force.
Dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police chief, sought to amend Section 58 of the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 and proposed to increase the current quota for the annual recruitment and training of female cops from 10% to 15%.
The annual quota will then be increased to 20% in the next five years.
Dela Rosa cited the female cadet who graduated on top of her class at the Philippine Military Academy this year, as well as the female cadet who recently became a topnotcher at the Philippine National Police Academy.
“Patunay na ang tawag ng tungkulin at pagsisilbi sa bayan ay walang pinipiling kasarian,” he said.
Hontiveros, being the chair of the Senate committee on women, children and family relations, initially supported Dela Rosa’s proposal through her Twitter account.
“I am particularly happy to support Sen dela Rosa’s bill increasing gender quotas in the Philippine National Police. Women in spaces & spheres of law enforcement create a counterculture of human rights, restorative justice & healing. The PNP can always do w/ more of these,” she wrote.
“Maraming babae na takot mag-report dahil nahihirapan sila na lalaking pulis ang kausap nila. Hopefully this bill will address that gap,” Hontiveros added.
History of authority abuse
However, some Filipinos on Twitter were not too keen on the remarks of Hontiveros as they claimed it would only create “female fascists.”
A Twitter user called the mindset “liberal feminism” and argued:
“Dismantling patriarchal institutions is not a numbers game that can be won by placing more women in problematic institutions, while leaving sexist & misogynist structures intact. The police have always been a repressive state apparatus.”
A former councilor of Sangguniang Kabataan also shared a statement on the issue and urged Hontiveros to scrutinize the proposed measure given the police force’s “corrupt” history and its tendency to abuse authority.
“Maraming pulis ang kailangan makulong at maparusahan sa iba’t ibang pagkasala nila sa taumbayan. Marami pang kailangan mabago sa sistema ng paglilingkod nila sa bayan,” Von Yacob said.
“Kaya ang panawagan namin sa’yo Sen., tutukan ang panukalang ito at siguraduhing mabilang ang mga mahahalang probisyon tulad ng gender-sensitivity at de-esclation trainings, at mga repormang babasag sa macho-pyudal na sistema ng institution na ito,” he added.
Hontiveros eventually responded to the arguments and agreed that they should “do more than install gender quotas in our institutions.”
“We have to look at systems that enable the oppression of women & marginalized peoples,” she said in response to Yacob’s statement.
“Pls. accept my assurance that we’ll look into this bill more closely. We won’t waver in our fight for human rights & restorative justice, esp. under this current system. Our feminism should always be intersectional. Thank you for always reminding me & for keeping me in check,” Hontiveros continued.
Her initiative was lauded by other Filipinos who hoped that other public officials in higher office would also listen to their constituents as well.
— Ray Aguas (@rayaguas) June 2, 2020
PNP, which is the primary agency entrusted to promote peace and order, has been criticized for its treatment of citizens ever since President Rodrigo Duterte imposed strict lockdown measures over the country in a bid to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease.
The institution has been involved in recent reports of warrantless arrests and detainment, utilizing unnecessary force on quarantine violators, alleged sexual harassment on checkpoints, violation of government-imposed quarantine protocols and even murder.
The United Nations recently called out the country’s “highly militarized response” on enforcing quarantine protocols at the expense of committing human rights abuses.
“Emergency powers should not be a weapon governments can wield to quash dissent, control the population, and even perpetuate their time in power,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.
The country’s own Commission of Human Rights likewise urged law enforcers to approach situations in a “humanitarian” manner and respect human dignity as they enforce quarantine measures.