Injustice no more: Azurin sees resignations as a way to salvage PNP execs’ honor
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. on Thursday said that the courtesy resignations of PNP colonels and generals would be a blessing for those wrongly linked to the drug trade.
In a press conference, Azurin said that some law enforcement personnel had suffered consequences due to the allegations but that no formal complaints had been filed against them.
“If we go back to our historical data, there were a lot of officers [falsely] accused [of drug links and]… were even named. Unfortunately, up to now, these officers suffer because they were never cleared,” Azurin said in a mix of Filipino and English.
“If you are cleared, then nobody can say that he is a henchman of this guy. These are unfair because, in the past, we saw that there were some generals who were directly accused [of being narco-generals], but up to now, they are being accused [of the same allegations]. They were never cleared, but no case has been filed against them, but they and their [families] suffer as their integrity is questionable up to now,” he added.
Once the proposed five-person committee has cleared a PNP official, Azurin said the official could use the clearance to prove his integrity.
“What’s worse is that some have retired, and they are still being questioned about their involvement… So this time, I told my people, let us submit ourselves so that the accusations would end. And if you are cleared, you can pin it onto their chest, I was cleared by the five-man committee,” he explained.
“That’s why we created a five-man committee because we also want to protect the third-level officers involved. If you recall, there were six generals dropped before, but no case has been filed against them before. So here, the five-man committee will determine the culpability,” he added.
Azurin did not identify the six generals, but former president Rodrigo Duterte — who implemented a nationwide campaign against illegal drugs — fired six generals for their alleged involvement in the drug trade.
Then PNP chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa said he was unsure if there were six generals but clarified in an interview in 2016 that five supposed narco-generals were identified. Of these, three were relieved from their posts and two have already retired.
The five generals were former National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Police Director Joel Pagdilao, Western Visayas regional director Chief Superintendent Bernardo Diaz, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director Chief Superintendent Edgardo Tinio and retired police generals Marcelo Garbo Jr. and Vicente Loot.
On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. asked all PNP colonels and generals to submit their courtesy resignations. He said that even Azurin is being asked to submit his resignation.
Azurin said that while assessing the five-person panel is a chance for personal validation, it would also help clear the image of the PNP as an organization.
“So every time there is an opportunity for reassignment, they always return to — it seems like a nightmare — the allegations of working for drug syndicates. When would this end? What’s difficult here is that it seems the whole PNP is involved,” Azurin said.
“That’s why I am asking officials, let us submit ourselves for an assessment and an evaluation by an independent committee whose integrity [has] been proven,” he added.