Press Release
November 2, 2019

Recto envisions Congress to have own police force

Senate President Protempore Ralph Recto seeks to establish a police force primarily tasked at ensuring the security of members, officials, employees and guests of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the safety of its premises.

Recto said having a separate congressional police force would also ensure the independence of the Legislature from Malacanang or the Executive Department.

The senator has filed Senate Bill 1051, or "An Act to Ensure the Security of Members, Officials, Employees and Guests of Congress and the Safety of Congressional Premises, Creating for the Purpose the Congressional Police Force, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes."

Recto explained that while Congress has its own Seargeant-at-Arms, it traditionally relied on the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of its members and officers.

"In more than one occassion, Congress has had to rely on the military and police officers to perform functions essential to legislation, such as serving subpoenas, contempt orders, and warrants of arrest," Recto said.

"Such dependence on the executive agencies, while legally sanctioned, nonetheless impairs the independence of the Legislature and its capacity to establish its own security and operational protocols within its own premises," he added..

Several other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada have also separate police organizations.

SBN 1051 seeks to create a Congressional Police Force mandated to maintain peace and order, safety and security in Congress, and to perform tasks essential for Congress to carry out its legislative mandates.

The Congressional Police Force, as a primary law enforcement agency concerned with the security of Congress, shall be mandated to safeguard members and officials of Congress and members of their respective immediate families, as well as the employees and guests on congressional premises.

Recto said the Congressional Police is also empowered to assist members and officials in the performance of their constitutional duties, such as serving subpoenas and warrants, effecting arrests within congressional premises, and facilitating the processing of firearms licenses and permits.

"Ultimately, this bill intends to protect a cornerstone of Philippine democracy - a safe, independent, open and functioning legislature," Recto said.

Under the measure a Congressional Police Board shall be created as an agency mandated to exercise administrative control and operational supervision over the Congressional Police.

The Board shall be a collegial body composed of three regular commissioners composed of the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives, Sergeant-at-A rms of the Senate, and the Chief of the Congressional Police.

It shall exercise administrative control over the Congressional Police and shall advise the House Speaker and the Senate President on matters involving the security of members and officials of Congress and the safety of its premises and its employees.

The Congressional Police, according to the measure, shall initially be comprised of employees under the Office of Sergeant-at-Arms of both chambers. It will be headed by a chief and two deputy chiefs to be appointed jointly by the Senate President and the House Speaker. New applicants must not be less than 21 years old nor more than 30 years of age.

SBN 1051 has been referred to the Senate Accounts Committee chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

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