PNP chief’s plea: Please don’t blame AbrazadoBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
How do you prepare for a plane crash?
Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome raised this question on Monday as he called for sobriety among users of social networking sites who blamed the tragic death of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo on his police aide, Chief Insp. June Abrazado.
Abrazado, who served as Robredo’s aide-de-camp since President Benigno Aquino designated him to head the Department of the Interior and Local Government in July 2010, was the only survivor of the August 18 plane crash, which also claimed the lives of the two pilots.
“The duty of Abrazado was to protect (Robredo) and he knows his job. But who can be prepared for an accident of such magnitude?” Bartolome told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone.
“We do not know what really happened until the investigation into the incident is completed. Let’s wait for Abrazado to recover and give him an opportunity to explain because it’s only he who can discuss the events (before the crash),” he said.
The PNP chief noted that even Robredo’s widow, lawyer Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, publicly said Abrazado should not be blamed for surviving the crash. She even thanked Robredo’s aide for protecting her husband.
“June served my husband very well. What I feel for him is gratitude… He’s a good man and kind to us,” the widow told reporters last week.
After Robredo was reported missing when the plane carrying him plunged into the waters off the coast of Masbate, a number of netizens raised doubts over Abrazado’s recollection of the accident.
Some Twitter users and bloggers even questioned how he was able to come out from the submerged plane alive.
“Nobody can ever be ready to face such a tragedy,” Bartolome said.
He said policemen assigned to protect senior government officials and other VIPs were only trained to respond to land-based eventualities like assassination attempts.
“We don’t practice our policemen to react to that kind of sudden incidents. We don’t have a training (module) for that. But how can you be ready for a plane crash?” Bartolome said.
“Abrazado and other police security aides are well-trained to protect their VIPs, but not in accidents like plane crash. Abrazado said he would take a bullet for Secretary Robredo.”
Nonetheless, he said he would order all PNP units to give “quick reaction drill” to all policemen on what they should do in emergency cases.
Aside from concussions on both arms, Abrazado luckily escaped serious body injuries, Bartolome said.
He said Abrazado was still undergoing treatment at PNP General Hospital in Camp Crame.
Normal to forget
Bartolome said he had assigned a psychologist to watch over Abrazado who, he said, was suffering from depression.
“He’s really depressed and very disappointed about what had happened. He’s blaming himself for not being able to save or protect the secretary,” he said.
As to the supposed inconsistencies in Abrazado’s recollection of the crash, the PNP chief said it was normal for a person who survived a traumatic event to forget some details of the incident.
“That’s why we’re giving him the time to be able to recall the pieces of information until they’re clear to him. The doctors said he’s still having flashbacks of the tragedy,” he said.
Bartolome, who was in Naga City to supervise security for the state funeral of Robredo, thanked the interior secretary’s family “for sharing with us Secretary Jesse who helped us improve the performance of the PNP.”
“(Robredo) ordered the increase in the per capita budget for the policemen on the ground, which greatly improved the efficiency of the police service,” he said.
“He also helped us change the PNP procurement service by introducing the performance governance system that helped us optimize and maximize the utilization of our resources.”
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