Critics say DILG chief only giving ‘narco’ cops a ‘graceful exit’
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III criticized Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos’ “unfair and illogical” request for the mass resignation of generals and colonels of the Philippine National Police to force out those allegedly involved in illegal drugs instead of just charging them in court.
“Why not pursue the matter on a case-to-case basis? Identify the crooked and prosecute them,” the opposition senator said in a statement on Thursday.
“I find that ‘call’ or ‘request’ very strange and too broad as it will also affect those who are truly innocent and even those who are outstanding in their jobs,” Pimentel said.
Rights groups Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Karapatan also assailed Abalos’ surprise call on PNP’s senior officers to tender their courtesy resignation, calling it a “preposterous, cynical ploy” that would allow erring police to evade accountability by simply quitting their posts.
“It does not serve the cause of justice and accountability—far from it,” HRW senior researcher Carlos Conde said.
‘Easy way out’
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the new policy would only give “narco cops” an “easy way out of scrutiny.”
The criticisms came as PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. submitted on Thursday his courtesy resignation to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., one of the first to answer Abalos’ request.
“I heed the call of the Honorable Secretary of the Interior and Local Government and the concurrent chairman of Napolcom (National Police Commission). Thus, I am submitting my resignation from the police service voluntarily,” Azurin said in a two-page letter addressed to President Marcos.
He said the other four highest police officials comprising the PNP’s Command Group also filed their resignation in support of Abalos’ request on Wednesday.
As the head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Abalos exercises supervision over the 227,000-strong PNP.
Azurin called on all the other 955 colonels and generals (not 429 as earlier reported) in the police force to follow his step and “to have the courage to subject yourselves to the process.”
“Let us not put the organization in a disarray and, as officers and gentlemen, let us be guided by the wisdom of our leader,” he said.
The PNP could not say how many of the colonels and generals across the country had already submitted their courtesy resignations.
Azurin only said members of the Command Group and Internal Affairs Service director Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo also filed token resignation letters.
Officials of the National Capital Region Police Office and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group had also openly expressed support for voluntary resignation.
But in his statement, Pimentel said Abalos’ call was unreasonable and fell outside the scope of due process.
“If Abalos believes in the veracity of his information on drug-linked PNP officers, he can use this as evidence in filing criminal charges against them,” he said.
“Those who protect the crooked are ‘in conspiracy’ with them and should be charged too under the conspiracy theory,” Pimentel added.
At the House of Representatives, Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez called for a “more calibrated approach” in cleansing the PNP of rogue officers, even as he clarified that he supported Abalos’ move.
“The DILG and the PNP leaderships should call out these tainted police officers and men, as well as file charges against them in the exercise of their administrative control and supervision,” he said.
Fernandez, chair of the House committee on public order and safety, said Abalos’ call would “give a free hand to the DILG and the PNP leadership to rid the ranks of our primary law enforcement agency of scalawags who are in cahoots with criminal elements.”
But Conde said the move “allows abusers to evade accountability especially because Abalos invoked the defects of the criminal justice system and judicial systems to justify his idea.”
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes described the courtesy resignations as “hollow and useless.”
“Is the government offering retirement and a graceful exit instead of prosecuting corrupt officials?” he said.
‘Allies shooting from behind’
On Wednesday, Abalos said his call was spurred by revelations that several police officials were involved in criminal drug syndicates after “months of investigation.”
Defending his idea, the DILG chief said it would be difficult to revamp the drug war “if your own allies are the ones shooting you from behind.”
“This will be very difficult, a very radical approach to this problem, but I do believe we must cleanse our ranks,” Abalos said.
He said a “really trustworthy” five-person committee, whose members he did not disclose for their security, would evaluate whether to accept or reject the resignation of the police officers.
Abalos said those who would comply with the call for resignation would remain in the police service “until [their resignations] are accepted by the President.”
PNP chief Azurin, other top officials submit courtesy resignations
Metro Manila Council backs Abalos’ call for courtesy resignations of PNP execs
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