Tuesday, May 06, 2014

PNP Reforms (A continuing article). Part 4c – Deactivation or Reorganization of Outdated NSUs (HPG)

Highway Patrol Group is another unit ripe for deactivation.  Formerly it was named Traffic Management Group, showing that in the naming alone, there is already confusion as to what exactly is its work.  For me, they are formerly the Trigger Men Group and now they are the Highway Patong Group.

In 2008, this article appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080528-139396/TMG-is-now-Highway-Patrol

The Philippine National Police's Traffic Management Group (TMG) has been renamed to PNP Highway Patrol Group.  The renaming of the police unit was based on a recommendation of the PNP leadership after the PNP unit was stripped of its traffic management duties during the term of former PNP Chief Oscar Calderon, the National Police Commission said Wednesday.

"The Traffic Management Group has become a misnomer since traffic management has been given to the MMDA [Metro Manila Development Authority], said PNP Spokesman Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome.  Bartolome said the new unit will now focus on anti-carnapping, highway robbery and hi-jacking incidents.  Napolcom Personnel and Administrative Service chief Isidro Siriban said the move was aimed at addressing the misconception that the functions of the said unit merely duplicate and overlap the functions of the Traffic Enforcement Groups of the Metro Manila Development Authority and the different local police units.

Former Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Reynaldo Berroya also revoked the deputization of the PNP-TMG from enforcing traffic rules and LTO regulations because of alleged complaints from motorists of extortion by personnel of the unit.

In the current website of its PIO, it describes itself as:  Highway Patrol Group (HPG) is one of the operational units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that ensures the safe and secure travel of our people especially the motorists along the country's highways and major thoroughfares.

 At this stage, one is wont to ask, "Ano ba talaga koya?"

And oh, is that job description still really a job of the PNP?  The website mentioned safety and security.  But how do we define safety and security, especially in the context of land transportation in the highways and major thoroughfares?  In this perspective, it is obvious that safety and security goes beyond removing carnappers, holduppers, and snatchers in the highways.  And this is actually recognized by the HPG:  rarely can you see HPG men patrolling the streets looking for holduppers and snatchers.  And most of the time, their efforts against carnappers are in the context of enforcing of RA 4136 otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code of the Philippines.  But once again, is this really the job of the police?

Let us examine the law.  Republic Act 4136 in Section 4.d.7 that states:

(7) The Philippine Constabulary and the city and municipal police forces are hereby given the authority and the primary responsibility and duty to prevent violations of this Act, and to carry out the police provisions hereof within their respective jurisdiction: Provided, That all apprehensions made shall be submitted for final disposition to the Commissioner and his deputies within twenty-four hours from the date of apprehension.

And the following section further clarifies this mandate:

(8) All cases involving violations of this Act shall be endorsed immediately by the apprehending officer to the Land Transportation Commission. Where such violations necessitate immediate action, the same shall be endorsed to the traffic court, city or municipal court for summary investigation, hearing and disposition, but in all such cases, appropriate notices of the apprehensions and the dispositions thereof shall be given to the Commissioner of Land Transportation by the law-enforcement agency and the court concerned.

Looking at the above provisions, it is clear that while the then PC and its descendant PNP, were primarily tasked in carrying out the police provisions (what is that anyway) of RA 4136, all their actions must still be submitted to the Commissioner for FINAL disposition and with the time limit of only 24 hours.  In this scenario, the PNP is nothing but a second fiddle to the LTO.  In 2008, then LTO Chief Reynaldo Berroya, who ironically is a former PC and PNP officer, revoked the deputation of the PNP effectively removing its power to enforce PA 4136.

And the LTO is not even absolute in the its mandate.  In Metro Manila, there is the MMDA that is promulgating its own traffic rules and regulations taking its powers from Republic Act 7924 specifically sections 2 and 3 which in part states:

(2) The MMDA shall perform planning, monitoring and coordinative functions, and in the process exercise regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of metro-wide services within Metro Manila without diminution of the autonomy of the local government units concerning purely local matters.

(3) Transport and traffic management which includes the formulation, coordination and monitoring of policies, standards, programs and projects to rationalize the existing transport operations, infrastructure requirements, the use of thoroughfares, and promotions of safe and convenient movement of persons and goods: provision for the mass transport system and the institution of a system to regulate road users; administration and implementation of all irerhe enforcement operations, traffic engineering services and traffic education programs, including the institution of a single ticketing system in Metropolitan Manila.

And this is just but justified, in my point of view.  The idea of traffic management being removed from the duties of the police had come to age.  This is because modern traffic management is composed of the Es of traffic.  Various models postulate variances on the number of Es.  There were theories saying 3Es, Engineering, Education, and Enforcement while other theories add Environment, and other Es.  Nevertheless, almost all models start with the three basic Es which invariably start with Engineering.  The University of the Philippines has a whole center under the college of engineering devoted to this discipline.  Thus the big question:  what has the PNP got to do with traffic engineering?  The second E, which stands for Education, also presents the same challenge.  Together with its regulatory powers drawn from RA 4136, traffic education appears to be the last bastion of the LTO.  This is one area that the LTO should be in the forefront—and this has nothing to do with the police.  The last E, standing for enforcement, is one thing that remained for the PNP, as mandated by law.  But in this area, the PNP is not even the primary responsible.  As explained above, the PNP plays second fiddle to the LTO and PNP personnel needs to be deputized by the LTO to enforce RA 4136.  How many times that we heard over the radio that a cop is being berated by the Tulfo brothers for apprehending a motorist while not being deputized?  In most cases, the LTO and the superiors of these unfortunate policemen side with the Tulfos.  Now whether it is because of the law or their fear of the Tulfos is debatable.  One thing is sure though:  the PNP has no inherent power to print their own OVR, TOP, or any kind of traffic citation ticket and depends on another agency to have this power.

Against this backdrop, what remains of the PNP tasks and mandate?  The renaming of the TMG to HPG was ostensibly done to address with unsync.  Now, the HPG boasts to be in the forefront of the fight against carnappers.  But I thought according to their website, their mandate is to ensure safe and secure travel of people?  But even then, granting that carnapping is their primary concern, that job is basically an intelligence driven investigation where the most critical segment is the intelligence build up.  The interdiction can be done by the regular units.  Thus how do riding boots and ten gallon hats contribute to this job? 

One of the latest photos posted in its website is,

Here, the PNP is again nakikipag agawan ng trabaho sa LTO.  It was the LTO that was mandated by law.  It is clear in Section 10 of RA 10586, the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013 that states:

SEC. 10. Deputation. – The LTO may deputize traffic enforcement officers of the PNP, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and cities and municipalities in order to enforce the provisions of this Act.
So why insist on a job that another agency is primarily responsible?  Dahil may extra income?  Bayaan mo na ang Flying Squad ng LTO na gumawa nyan.  Anyway feeling pulis naman sila e.

 On the other claimed job of HPG which is the fight against carnappers and criminals, googling “TMG shootout” and “HPG shootout” returns  numerous bungles that this unity have figured in.  The most infamous are the gangland style execution of the "Valley Verde Boys" in Ortigas Ave led by the equally infamous dismissed PSupt Hansel Marantan in 2008 and the Paranaque shootout, also in 2008 that resulted in the death of a father and his daughter.  In both cases, HPG claimed that they are in a fight against carnappers.  Earlier this year, the HPG office in Cebu was raided by the NBI armed with a search warrant.  Several of its officers were suspected to be behind the ambush-killing of a lawyer.  Here is the link to the story:  http://www.philstar.com/cebu-news/2014/03/21/1303424/pnps-task-force-archival-nbi-disagree-patrol-group-cops-suspect-slay

Without a clear sense of direction, the HPG will continue to produce people and operations like Marantan and the numerous botched encounters that they figured in resulting in unjustified deaths of suspects and civilians alike.

It is time to pull down the curtain...


  1. sir, many years ago ang monthly tara just to be appointed as regional chief sa cebu ay .5M double that in the central mvcu that's why you missed the biggest money making function of the hpg, and that is the issuance of motor vehicle clearances:)

  2. add to that ang kita nila sa re-stamping of vehicle identification numbers and most of all yung pera na kailangang isuka ng isang registered owner or insurance firm na nagke-claim ng stolen/recovered vehicle.

    i agree that it's time that the pnp leadership re-think about the current status and function of the hpg because it's one whole stinking unit wherein almost all pco, pnco and even nup's are involved in corruption. but one question lingers on my mind, is there any provision in the RA 6975 and 8551 that allows any unit to be deactivated?

    1. salamat sa additional info.

      about your question, that is the reason why we need to amend the law or change it altogether...


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