AMID stepped-up efforts of the Duterte government to raise public awareness on the benefits of a possible shift to federalism in the country, officials also are attempting to explain what will be the effect to the Philippine National Police of a shift to a new government system.
At present, the Department of the Interior and Local Government headed by Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueño has been intensifying its campaign to further inculcate in the public’s mind the dividends the country would reap under a federal state of government.
According to Sueño, “educating the public on what federalism is all about” is the key in getting the consensus of the public on the proposed shift from the current democratic to federal form of government. He explained that right now, it is not just the local government officials that are being educated on the planned move to federalism, but also the people on the ground.
“At present there are four groups going around the country giving talks to schools, academe and even to civilians explaining what federalism is all about,” Sueño said. The official said one of the clear benefits the local government units (LGUs) can get from a federal state government is fiscal autonomy.
Today, there will be a Federalism Forum at the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame where topics to be discussed among other things are the following: the comparison of presidential system and parliamentary system and their advantages and disadvantages; the structure of the national police in a federal system of government; courts in a federal system of government; and shift from unitary-presidential system to federal-semi-presidential or modified parliamentary system.
Officials privy to the lectures on a federal form of government in the Philippines as espoused by President Duterte explained that in the United States, there are federal police whose jurisdiction is limited to the federal property to which they are assigned.
The General Services Administration and Veteran’s Administration are two agencies employing federal police officers. There are also numerous federal law enforcement agencies with various jurisdictions to investigate federal crimes. In some states, some federal agents are authorized to make arrests for state offenses and it is not uncommon for federal agents to prosecute for state crimes when prosecution is declined by federal prosecutors.
State and local police can also refer crimes directly to federal prosecutors in some instances but their authority is limited to the state or local boundaries.
Federal crimes are generally those involving interstate commerce. State crimes on the other hand include crimes similar to those at the federal level and those affecting local public safety such as assault and burglary.
However, the most important difference in the US is that State Police exist and that there are no Federal Police in the US. It should also be understood that there are various federal law enforcement agencies in the US such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration but no Federal Police.
“The primary difference between Federal and State law enforcement agencies in the US is that Federal law enforcement only enforces federal law while state and local police enforce state and local laws,” said PNP Deputy Director for Plans, Chief Superintendent Arnold D. Gunnacao.
The official said their study of the US federal form of government says that US federal police’s jurisdiction is limited to the federal property to which they are assigned.
The US Constitution established a system of federalism that allocates power, authority and sovereignty between the federal government at the national level and its constituent units at the state and local levels.
If the Duterte government’s proposed federal form of government would be patterned after the US federal system, officials said it would possibly mean that the 18 regions in the country would be divided into a federal state which has its own state police coming from members of the 160,000-strong PNP.
A Federal State could also recruit and organize its own special units like those from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Highway Patrol Group, Maritime Group and the Special Action Force as well as their own Crime Laboratory.
That possibility would mean that the PNP national headquarters would be the home of a Federal Police force whose members should decide on whether they will remain with the Federal Police or become member of State Police.
(to be continued)