THERE’s now a snowballing move in Congress to separate the Highway Patrol Group (HPG), the so-called “Guardian of the Highways,” from the 175,000-member Philippine National Police (PNP).
Leading the move, which is reportedly aimed at enabling the group to fully and effectively carry out its mandate, is Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento of the lone Congressional district of Catanduanes.
Admittedly, the Sarmiento proposal of transferring the HPG from the PNP, which is civilian in nature but national in scope, to the Department of Transportation (DoTr) is better said than done.
“Ang panukala ay nangangailangan ng masusi at mahabang pag-aaral para matiyak na makakabuti ito sa taumbayan, lalo na sa mga motorista at manakay,” said a well-meaning commuter.
The highly-articulate and dependable Bicolano lawmaker broached the idea in a speech during the 63rd founding anniversary of the PNP-HPG, where he was guest of honor and speaker.
Sarmiento likened his proposal to what happened to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), which was separated from the Philippine Navy (PN) on March 30, l988 by virtue of Executive Order (EO) 475.
Issued by then President Ramos, EO No. 475 transferred the PCG from the Department of National Defense to the Office of the President and eventually to the Department of Transportation and Communication.
At present, PCG is an attached agency of the DoTr, with 12 CG districts, 54 CG stations and over 190 CG sub-stations from Basco, Batanes in the North to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao.
In the event the Highway Patrol Group is transferred to the transportation department, it is expected to have its own national headquarters outside Camp Crame in Quezon City.
With enough financial and manpower resources as well as logistical equipment, the HPG is seen to enhance road security of motorists, passengers and other commuters across the country.
But what is important is for the national government to give the HPG officers and men enough teeth and muscle to go after all violators of traffic laws, rules and regulations.