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Govt rejects Phillip as CoP tooBall back in PSC court
There is no Government support for Harold Phillip as the Police Commissioner and it’s back to the Police Service Commission on the issue.
That was Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s position on the issue as he spoke in Parliament yesterday.
He added that Government won’t support the PSC’s nomination of Phillip (deputy Commissioner) for the top post since they wouldn’t accept people who didn’t apply for the job. “...Therefore Harold Phillip doesn’t qualify to get Government’s support,” Rowley added.
The PM made Government’s position clear during the sitting - convened during the annual recess- to deal with the PSC’s notification of Phillip for the CoP post.
Last Tuesday just before Leader of Government Business Camille Robinson-Regis announced the recess, she noted that a “document” was received on a notification for the post. She said it wouldn’t be dealt with since in recent debate (on the PSC’s nomination for Deodat Dulalchan for the same post) Government said the PSC’s process was flawed.
However, the next day she said the notification received last week would be debated yesterday, since a letter from the PSC chairman accompanying the notification came to her attention only after last Tuesday’s sitting. PSC chairman Bliss Seepersad had, according to Legal Notice (2015) governing the selection, submitted notification for Phillip - the second-ranked in the process - after notification for Dulalchan failed.
In debate yesterday, Rowley thanked Robinson-Regis for saying Government wouldn’t support the notification for Phillip.
“God alone knows what interpretation would have been put on this ... she told the country Government will not be supporting this and that should have cleared up the conversation,” he said.
Rowley said Government wasn’t prepared to accept the PSC’s process since “the deal breaker was that people who didn’t apply for the CoP’s position must not walk away with the post.”
He said it was on those grounds Government said in last month’s debate on the matter that the two names recommended for CoP and deputy CoP wouldn’t be accepted. He said maybe those two applicants didn’t even think they qualified for that job and they’d applied for what they thought they could manage.
“... But the PSC made one callaloo and tell you that someone who didn’t apply for the post was now at number one,” he said.
Saying Government had senior counsel advice on the matter, as the PSC did, Rowley explained the law required a merit list of candidates for the CoP post. He said while Government isn’t prepared to accept people who didn’t apply for the job, it’s following the law on the matter since he wouldn’t do anything to successfully open Government to legal challenges.
“(So) Today we will not affirm Mr Harold Philip for the post and the matter goes back to the PSC to follow the law,” he added.
Denying Government was violating the Constitution by not debating the matter, Rowley said Government has “no horse in this race.”
“What we have is a situation that’s patently untenable, that its arrangement for appointing a CoP is so convoluted, confused and sometimes contrived, that for years we haven’t been able to appoint a CoP,” he added
If ever there was a case to be made for “change for change sake” or “ulterior motive not always being change for the better,” he said this was it.
Rowley noted previous changes on the process, including under the Manning administration, of removing the prime ministerial veto on the appointment of a CoP, “and now we have ‘Veto On Steroids’ since it falls to Parliament to handle the matter.”
Rowley said he’d noted a “lot of confusion” on what was the course being followed in and out of Parliament and even at PSC level. He said the notification Robinson-Regis received last week wasn’t on Parliament’s order paper and the only place for resolution of the matter involves it being on the order paper
“So all the commentary about ‘incompetence of the Government’ is so much hooey (sic) as until it gets on the order paper the Government has nothing to do,” he said.
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