By Tokana Hasavi Jr – EM TV, Port Moresby
The signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the National Capital District Commission Police Reservist Unit (NCDCPRU) and the Papua New Guinea Royal Constabulary, which effectively empowers the reserve unit to enforce the betel nut ban, can be terminated by Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki.
This is the stance from Deputy Police Commissioner Operations, Jim Andrews.
He says the country’s constabulary is a constitutional agency and all its personnel come under the authority of the police commissioner.
Whilst outspoken NCD Governor Powes Parkop opposes the unilateral decision taken by Vaki last week to cancel the MOU, Andrews says that all powers rest with Vaki.
These remarks match former police superintendent and former Madang provincial commander, Ben Simanjon’s stance last week on the unconstitutionality of reserve units serving municipal and corporate interests.
Section 199 of the Constitution allows for the creation of reserve or special police forces, but also stipulates that there can only be one police force in PNG, essentially meaning they all work in cohesion.
Section 198 specifies the police commissioner as the sole authority that controls and organises the police force.
Furthermore, Section 197 (2) states that members of the police force are not subject to direction or control by any person outside the force.
However, NCD Governor Powes Parkop believes the outcome of the MOU that gives power to the NCDC Reserve Unit is working to change the image and mindset of the city, a feat that he’s committed to implement.
Governor Parkop, who expects no political or public gain from his mandated betel nut ban, explained that the ban was a last resort by virtue of vendors’ non-compliance of NCDC’s numerous warnings of proper disposal of betel nut debris and trading at designated venues.
An official police gazette is expected to be issued this week by the police commissioner that effectively disbands the NCDC and Bank South Pacific Reservist Units.