General Debold Sinas may not get everything he wants after all as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) rejected the implementation of one of his last projects as outgoing chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
In a letter, DOLE secretary Silvestre Bello III dismissed as additional red tape Sinas’ proposal for the imposition of the National Police Clearance System (NPCS) on everyone who wishes to transact with the department.
“[R]equiring DOLE’s clientele to secure a police clearance issued by PNP’s national headquarters to avail of our services will do more harm than good,” Bello told Sinas.
The labor secretary explained that in a rapid survey he ordered in response to the general’s request, 94 percent of employers and workers are not in favor of the PNP’s latest scheme.
“It is a form of red tape to all and an additional financial burden to many,” Bello said.
The labor secretary also explained that the NPCS has no legal basis and may in fact violate the Constitution, the Labor Code and other laws.
Sinas, controversial for his violation of the government’s pandemic lockdown protocols during his 55th birthday celebration in 2020, retires on Saturday, May 8, on his 56th birth anniversary.
Sinas’ tenure as PNP chief has also been widely condemned for brutal counter-insurgency drives nationwide that killed civilian activists and arrested scores of others with unvarying illegal weapons and explosive charges.
Despite numerous complaints however, President Rodrigo Duterte refused to have his PNP chief investigated and has in fact publicly exonerated the controversial general.
In a March 10 letter, Sinas informed Bello of the PNP’s NPCS and proposed that the DOLE require a national police clearance for all who wish to transact with the department.
Sinas justified the NPCS scheme as the PNP’s effort to make police clearances more effective.
“For the longest time, the PNP has been issuing Local Police Clearance (LPC) nationwide to determine if an individual has any record. In the issuance thereof, however, the same has little impact on the aforesaid primary mandate of the PNP considering that more focus is being made on income or revenue generation,” Sinas said.
The controversial police chief revealed that only the local government units benefit from the revenues collected from issuing LPCs.
Sinas also admitted that the sources of information, scope, period of validity, processing time and format of the LPC vary in every local police station nationwide.
“Since the record checking is localized, an individual may be cleared in one jurisdiction although he has criminal records in other places,” Sinas further admitted.
Labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) expressed appreciation for Bello’s decision, noting however the labor department should not have dignified Sinas’ proposal with a survey.
“It is uncalled for. It should have been junked outright and immediately at an early stage. It is incorrect for the DOLE to even subject the matter to a survey,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog told Kodao.
Labog said the PNP’s attempt to require workers to seek clearance prior to being able to transact business with DOLE is a “blatant transgression” of workers’ rights that included the right to privacy, self-organization and freedom of association.
“It reeks of arrogance and…militarization of the bureaucracy,” Labog said.
“The…proposal is a slap to these (are basic worker’s rights). Why must we ask for permits from the PNP? What are those ‘transactions’? It is vague like any other fascist scroll such as the Anti-Terror Law. [It is another] tool for harassment at intimidation of the workers,” KMU said in an earlier April 21 statement.
The KMU said workers actively rejected Sina’s proposal through Bello’s survey.
“We laud workers for standing against this directive and using the survey to pressure Bello to junk Sinas’ proposal,” the labor group said.
“Sinas leaves his post with bloody hands and even attempted to leave something evil against workers behind. It’s good that a united workers’ voice stopped him,” KMU said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)