Police Ethics and Governance: Challenging Police and Social Corruption in the Philippines

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Abstract

This is a critical systemic study on managing ethics and promoting better
police governance. The case study is the Philippine National Police. Relatively
little research on the Philippine National Police (PNP) could be found in the
literature. This study aims to break new ground in the attempt to undertake
research while also contributing to the PNP's better governance. It also seeks to
contribute to the literature on policing, ethics management, and governance as
well as to introduce the PNP to the wider community of scholars, researchers
and academics who could be interested in studying this institution further. The
PNP has had a long history of corruption, unethical behaviour, human rights
abuses and internal institutional issues which have resulted in problems of
unethical behaviour, bad governance and mismanagement. The study develops a
model through which this institution could better manage ethics within and
beyond in order to enhance policing. This model could be useful in other police
institutions around the world dealing with similar issues about ethics
management and governance because it seeks to develop a model based on
broad principles in ethics management and improving governance which could
be applicable in other contexts, even as it specifically deals with the PNP. As a
critical systemic approach, it has broad application which could enable other
researchers to modify them to suit their specific contexts. To sum up, this study
has the following key findings:
1. The PNP suffers from various forms of unethical conduct among
its personnel, including bribery, patronage politics, the cutting of
corners around the criminal justice system, financial corruption,
shortcomings in leadership and violations of human rights.
2. The PNP is a highly militarised, almost entirely masculine, and
thoroughly politicised entity, and these factors contribute to its
existing problems with corruption and unethical behaviour.

3. Police officers, particularly those in the lower ranks, are neither
adequately paid, nor appropriately supported by the PNP, thereby
contributing in part to individual unethical or corrupt acts among
such officers.
4. Like many police institutions, the PNP has a closed culture which
separates it from the wider society in terms of governance and
management, even though most of its problems involving
unethical conduct and corruption are merely part of a wider civic
tolerance for corruption in the broader Philippine society.
5. The PNP admits to the existence of these and other problems,
however, its main approach towards improving itself is through its
own internal top-down institutional programs, believing that its
problems could be best resolved by its own leadership and its own
efforts. Many of these institutional programs are of a religious and
moral character, involving the extensive participation of religious
facilitators, such as the PNP's chaplains, thinking that the
development of a more ethical PNP should start from a more
religious and morally fit individual police officer. It formally
acknowledges the desire to see the wider society participate in its
attempts at resolving these problems, but it seeks to keep the
mechanisms of such participation within its own control.
These have been the main themes which this research has developed as part of
its qualitative analysis. These main themes revolve around the issues of the
PNP’s problems with patronage politics, corruption (both within the PNP and
beyond it in the wider society), institutional problems within the PNP, and the
PNP’s own insistence on resolving its own problems through its own
institutional efforts, most of which largely focus on spiritual, moral and
religious approaches directed towards individual police officers in the hope to
making them more morally, and thus more ethically upright persons.

In spite of the PNP’s desire to reform itself through its own efforts, and
the wider society’s inclusion in these efforts is subject to the PNP’s control or
influence, it is nevertheless possible to develop a collaborative model for
improving ethics management and governance in the PNP from the bottom-up.
This study proposes that this could work at the municipal level of policing,
which in the Philippines is the lowest level of policing. A tentative attempt had
been carried out as part of this study to set up a collaborative inquiry discussion
in a rural Philippine municipality involving the local police and non-police
stakeholders within that municipality. This collaborative model, patterned after
the Collaborative Inquiry Approach, is not intended to replace the PNP's
institutional top-down programs, but rather to complement them and enable
non-police stakeholders, such as ordinary citizens, to participate meaningfully
in the governance of policing without having to come under the PNP's control.
It could also spur further research on the ways in which police and citizens
could work collaboratively as equals within an inclusive environment with a
view to improving police ethics and governance.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSaarbrucken, Germany
PublisherLabert Academic Publishers
Number of pages433
ISBN (Print)978-3-659-18845-9
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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