MANILA – In a profession long dominated by men, women are making considerable progress in rising up the ranks.
At the Philippine National Police, female police officers are playing key roles in the traditionally male-heavy hierarchy.
One of them is Col. Portia Manalad, a member of PNP Academy (PNPA) Class of 1995, who has assumed various command positions in the police force.
Manalad, currently deputy chief of the PNP Women and Children Protection Center, is a woman of firsts – the first female graduate of the PNPA and the first woman police director of Cotabato City.
Before assuming her current post, she handled command positions in the UN Peacekeeping Missions in Kosovo and Timor Leste; Regional Operations and Planning Division, and Police Regional Office 12 (Soccsksargen), to name a few.
Manalad acknowledged the challenge of pursuing a career in a male-dominated profession.
She welcomed PNP Chief, Gen. Debold Sinas' marching orders on having more women in higher positions in the police organization.
"As a female officer, welcome na welcome ho 'yun. Appreciated po 'yung kanyang equal or patas na ano samin na officers ng (We appreciate the equal treatment to us officers of the) Philippine National Police," she told Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.
She expressed appreciation for the plan, saying the move improves their morale and motivation since, in terms of service and efficiency, both male and female police officers are effective and competent in their jobs.
Col. Angela Rejano, a member of PNPA Class of 1997 and now serving as Malabon City Police Station chief, thanked the PNP leadership for giving her a break in command.
"Nagpapasalamat po kami, actually this is not new to the PNP because marami na rin pong mga kababaihan sa PNP na naitalagang bilang mga hepe, kaya nga lang po dito sa NCR (National Capital Region) ako po yung nauna pero 'yung opportunity na ito ay hindi naman ipinagkakait sa mga kababaihan sa PNP (We are thankful, actually this is not new to the PNP because women police officers had been appointed as chiefs but in the NCR, I am the first. This opportunity is also available to women in the PNP)," she added.
Rejano also attributes this fairness being shown in the police workplace to the established gender sensitivity and women empowerment policies being observed by the PNP.
"When it comes to promotion and placement with our male and female counterpart, so parehas po ang treatment samin pong lahat (treatment is the same for everyone)," Rejano said.
What could set female police officers apart?
Rejano believes it is a woman's attention to detail that is an asset to her job.
Meanwhile, PNP Drug Enforcement Group Special Operating Unit 2 Commander Col. Jhoana Rosales, a member of PNPA Class of 1999, is looking forward to seeing more uniformed women officers in the next few years.
"Itong ating Chief ay very vocal na pinapaalam niya sa public, like sa inyo sa media na talagang gusto niyang i-empower 'yung PNP female officers which is siyempre favorable sa amin (The chief has been very vocal and he lets the public know that he wanted to install more female in key positions and empower them which is, of course, favorable to us)," she said.
Having more female officers and enlisted officers ensures that the rights of female detainees will not be violated, she said.
Rosales noted that the policewomen’s strictness in the performance of their duties is complemented by their "motherly instinct" and genuine concern for personnel.
"Hindi naman natin sinasabi na wala 'yung mga kalalakihan nun, kaya nga lang, but because of that nature na motherly instinct ng mga babae, 'yun nga siguro, that explains siguro kaya strict sila but at the same time, may halong pag-aaruga 'yung pagiging strikto. Malaking bagay kasi 'yun para ma-boost 'yung morale ng mga personnel (We are not saying that men do not have this. A woman's motherly instinct explains why women are strict but at the same time caring. This is a big boost to the morale of the personnel)," she said.
Lt. Col. Kimberly Molitas of PNPA Magilas Class 2000 and PNP Highway Patrol Group Police Community Relations chief, expressed her "sincere gratitude" to the PNP chief for taking cognizance of women leadership in the police organization.
"This is also a chance for policewomen to show their brand of leadership, one that is strong yet inclusive, straightforward but innovative, strict but with a heart," she added.
Lt. Col. Jenny Tecson, currently assigned at the National Capital Region Police Public Information Office and Regional community Affairs and Development Division, thanks Sinas for recognizing the contribution of female police officers in promoting public safety and security services at all levels of offices and units in the PNP.
"Challenging po but we can also do better like our male counterparts po. Kumbaga, iyong pagtalaga po ni Sir sa mga kababaihan sa mga position ay amin pong wini-welcome upang maipakita din po namin ang aming kakayahan, mabibigyan ng equal opportunity para ma-utilize namin maigi ang aming potentials (We welcome the chief’s move to put women in position so we could show our skills. This gives us equal opportunity to show our potentials as police officers)," she said.
Capt. Mae Ann Cunanan, Integrity Monitoring Enforcement Group Public Information Office, said Sinas' calls for more women in positions of command is part of his belief in the unique and complementing capacity of female police officers.
"Thus, women empowerment in the organization establishes a high-level corporate leadership for gender equality. Everyone in the PNP organization, especially female officers, has an equal opportunity and chance to excel in her chosen field within the PNP," Cunanan said.
Earlier, Sinas bared that more female police officers would be installed in key positions at the PNP.
He said the empowerment of women would encourage them to be independent, boost their self-esteem, and generate confidence as they face difficult situations related to policing.
Sinas earlier said this would serve as an opportunity for female cops to showcase their abilities and capabilities.
He initiated forming the first-ever municipal police station run by female police officers in the island province of Siquijor when he was Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 (Central Visayas) director.
Upon becoming chief of the NCRPO, Sinas replicated his move at PRO-7 and formed an all-female police community precinct in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig last March. (PNA)