Senior Political Reporter
The Parliament meets on Friday, immediately after Carnival, to debate notifications for senior T&T Police Service (TTPS) officers Wendell Lucas, Junior Benjamin and Natasha George to become Deputy Commissioners of Police, after they were nominated by the Police Service Commission (PolSC).
But the United National Congress has made it clear that it doesn’t trust the PolSC enough to accept its nominees.
Government House leader Camille Robinson-Regis confirmed to Guardian Media over the weekend that the House of Representatives will meet on February 16 on the DCP notifications.
However, UNC deputy leader Roodal Moonilal recently made clear the party’s stance against the PolSC.
The three positions of DCP in the TTPS have been vacant for almost three years.
The notifications were laid in the House last December. They were forwarded to the Parliament by President Christine Kangaloo on December 4, after she received the notifications from the PolSC.
The three nominees—acting ACP (Administration) Benjamin, W/Supt George of the North Eastern Division and ACP Lucas of the White Collar Crime Bureau—are very senior career police officers with approximately 30 to 33 years service each, police officials said.
Debate on the notifications had been expected after they were laid last December. But that didn’t occur since the Finance and Miscellaneous Provisions bills respectively took precedence in debates.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at a media conference last Tuesday, had said the DCP notifications would be done immediately after Carnival but didn’t give a date. But following a Guardian Media query, Robinson-Regis confirmed the date.
In the House on Friday, debate on the notifications will be piloted by Rowley, under whose name they were listed on the agenda.
Discussion on the notifications take the form of three motions on each person.
The motions each cite section 123(1)(a) of the Constitution, which provides that the PolSC shall have the power to appoint persons to hold or act in the office of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police. It was also noted that under section 123(3), the PolSC shall submit to the President a list of names of the persons nominated for appointment to the office of Commissioner or DCP.
The motions further cite Section 123(4), where the President shall issue a notification in respect of each person nominated and the notification shall be subject to affirmative resolution of the House of Representatives.
Debate on the matter will be done before the Prime Minister is expected to leave for Guyana on February 18. He’ll be attending the Guyana Energy Conference over February 19-23 and subsequently the 46th Caricom conference. That is also in Guyana over February 25-28 .
Robinson-Regis: Kamla trying to be relevant
UNC’s Moonilal, who is expected to lead the Opposition’s response in the debate on the notifications, had raised concerns over the PolSC.
Moonilal had said, “We cannot trust the PolSC because look what happened (with other appointments). So we’re not in a position to accept their nominees.”
While noting he was casting no aspersions on Lucas, George and Benjamin, Moonilal added, “I’m talking about the PolSC because if they did us ‘that’ with the Commissioner of Police, what will they do with the Deputy Commissioners, one of whom - Mr Lucas or Ms George or somebody else - will eventually act as Commissioner of Police. So, the PolSC) cannot be trusted in these circumstances until they account for their nominee of Ms Erla Harewood-Christopher.”
UNC chairman Dave Tancoo said the UNC would discuss it in caucus.
Meanwhile, on the planned law to remove from Parliament the approval for acting CoPs and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s criticism that removing Parliamentary oversight was an undemocratic step and would “create an easier avenue” for appointment of Government’s “political cronies”, Robinson-Regis said, “There is nothing before the Parliament as yet so I have no comment to make. The Opposition Leader has not seen any bill either. But it is clear that she feels she must say something—anything—to remain relevant. That’s her prerogative.”