Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Debold Sinas popped into a Senate probe into law enforcement matters but not after first getting a serious scolding from senators including a predecessor, Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, for initially indicating his intention not to show up.
During the opening of the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee’s hearing, panel chair Senator Richard Gordon noticed the absence of the police force head.
Sinas sent Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) chief Major General Marni Marcos as a representative that incensed the senators more so after Marcos said Sinas had “other activities” to attend to, as an excuse for his absence.
“You know the Senate is the forum of the people. When we invite, it should be taken seriously,” Gordon started off.
Marcos tried to save the day for Sinas saying that the PNP head is willing to attend the proceeding through them as representatives.
“He just made it appear that he is too busy for the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines,” Gordon fumed.
“We are not asserting our importance but please have a proper excuse because senators come here and they want to know if you will attend. If you believe that this matter that we’re going to discuss is important to the PNP,” he added.
Gordon asked Marcos to “communicate” this to Sinas including the lawmakers’ concerns.
“I’m just trying to be polite here since you’re here and I don’t want to go after you since the one you are representing (is not here) and when you start saying ‘I cannot answer the question because I have no knowledge’ then we’re all in trouble,” Gordon pointed out.
De la Rosa also tore at Sinas saying when he was PNP chief, he made sure to attend congressional hearings when invited and made it a practice to bring top police generals with him.
Presence means respect
“I always attended Senate hearings and I bring my command group and all directorial staff because I know how important the hearings are. Our credibility as an organization would be in question,” he noted.
De la Rosa noted that the hearings cannot be ignored since these concern the performance of the Philippine National Police as a law enforcement agency.”
Sinas linked up through video to the hearing after being chastised by the senators. He was then asked about the revolving-door policy of the PNP.
“The short stints of the country’s top policemen do not affect the implementation of long-term programs of the police force,” Sinas indicated.
Gordon asked if Sinas would be in favor of a bill that would set a specific term of two years for the PNP chief.
Up for retirement this May, Sinas said he has no complaint and that other officers should be given a crack at being PNP chief.
Sinas’ reply did not sit well with Gordon who interpreted his statement as “in other words, the policy is to accommodate all our classmates? Isn’t it that the focus is the welfare of the public?”
De la Rosa then tried to come to Sinas’ rescue saying that what the police head wanted to point out “is that it’s not how long you serve, but it is how you serve.”
Gordon replied with a joke, “I don’t like to make any sexist statements here but that sounds like a quickie.”
Not the first time
What got the goat of the senators was that it was not the first time that Sinas tried to skip a hearing.
De la Rosa told Marcos that there should be one three-star general present to take the place of the PNP chief if he cannot attend a Senate inquiry.
“We should be ashamed because the Senate may think that you are snubbing their invitation and you are not giving weight to our investigation. It is the Senate that is conducting the hearing so you should give full attention on this,” he said.