Amidst the debate about military pension benefits, some quarters wished the government reconsidered the plan of the last administration to resurrect the Philippine Constabulary.
In the middle of former President Duterte’s term, he expressed an interest in bringing back the PC.
I never found out why he did not push thru with it.
But I remember one of his reasons was his belief the peace and order problems in the country needed an organization with the capability of the old PC to better deal with the kind of internal security situation we continue to experience to this day.
Indeed, the PC had that unique capability of being military and police at the same time, depending on the demands of the operational situation due to the training PC personnel underwent.
It was an ideal force to do battle with an insurgency war which by its very nature was a low intensity conflict.
Combat in such a scenario was mostly composed of small unit actions which the Constabulary excelled at, combined with police operations like applying for search and arrest warrants and the subsequent filing of cases in court.
Whether this type of capability is still what is needed at this time to finally solve our more than 50-year insurgency should be carefully studied.
We must also remember there are critics of the PC who are still around who have many things to say about the role played by the PC during the turbulent years of martial law.
They seem to forget the PC played a major role in the country’s return to democratic role.
We also do not know whether such an idea can attract enough support from Malacanang and Congress because a law will have to be passed to make the idea a reality.
Another stumbling block is the Constitution which mandates the formation of a national police force that must be civilian in character.
This Constitutional provision will have to be amended and I do not think there is an appetite to change that provision any time soon.
But there are perhaps two very good reasons why resurrecting the PC should indeed be considered.
One is changing strategic priorities not only in the country but in the region.
Our AFP must now move away from internal stability operations and concentrate on external defense because of the WPS and Taiwan issues.
It is not advisable for the AFP to be concentrating on both internal and external defense.
The bulk of internal stability operations should now be given to a force well suited to handle low intensity conflicts.
The PC can do this, freeing the AFP to modernize, reorganize and adjust doctrines to handle territorial defense.
Another reason which might attract the support of the Executive Branch and Congress, which is something totally unrelated to counter insurgency work, is that bringing back the PC could just be what is needed to provide a solution to the ticklish problem of pension benefits.
Before the PNP Law of 1992, the PC was part of the AFP and, at its zenith, it numbered about 33,000.
The local police units – although under the PC — belonged to and were paid by Local Government Units to include the fire departments and jail management personnel.
After 1992, these people were paid by the national government.
Currently, the PNP strength is about 220,000, not counting the fire and jail personnel.
This will continue to increase because the strength has to satisfy the population ratio of one is to 500 people.
If the PC is resurrected and the strength is pegged to not more than 45,000, the savings would be enormous.
It is not, however, as simple as that because, naturally, the pay and retirement benefits of the civilian police may have to go back to the local government units and this must have to be properly rationalized.
One thing that will probably happen is the police, fire and jail personnel will revert to the GSIS like the way it was before their incorporation to the PNP.
But there will be no danger of their salaries and other allowances being cut.
All that will happen is the indexation of pensions to active duty uniformed personnel will no longer be the same. The pension indexation will then only be to inflation which should be good enough.
The other issue to resolve is: will a resurrected PC go back as part of the AFP or will it stand alone under a new Department?
Still another is where will be the source of the officers come from?
From the Philippine Military Academy or a newly established Philippine Constabulary School?
On this score, the government should look at the Italian Carabinieri, Spanish Guardia Civil or the National Gendarmerie of France to see what is suited for the country.
These three organizations have very interesting histories and have similarities to the PC.
After all is said and done, everything will depend on what the priorities of the government are at this time.
If national security issues are at the upper echelon of its programs, then perhaps it is worth considering.
But if it is a low priority, then there is no chance at all and people wishing this thing to happen should just forget it.