PNP hopes body to vet resignations will be ‘bias-free’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police on Monday expressed hope that a committee formed to evaluate the 956 police officials that make up the organization’s leadership will act with dispatch, fairness, and without “bias.”
At Monday’s Laging Handa briefing, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said: “The only request of the PNP is that once this committee that would make [a] review convenes, they would be quick and fair, and their evaluation will be bias-free, so that it would be acceptable not only to the senior officers of the PNP but also to the entire Filipino nation.”
She was reiterating an earlier appeal, or “demand,” by PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. that the committee’s “process be made objective, impartial, judicious and fair.”
“We demand as well that the proceedings be made apolitical, and that personal issues and biases be set aside for a more acceptable outcome,” Azurin said after he and four other police officials who made up the PNP’s Command Group submitted their resignation letters last Thursday.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, who has supervision over the PNP, directed its officials last week to submit their courtesy resignations as “a very radical approach” to weeding out officials involved in the drug trade.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirmed over the weekend that Abalos’ move had his go-ahead.
Fajardo on Monday said about 500 of the PNP’s 956 senior officers had already submitted their resignations.
She also said the PNP had yet to be informed about the composition of the five-member committee.
Abalos disclosed last week that Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong was one of the members. He declined to name the others, but Magalong on Monday said they had yet to be chosen.
Meanwhile, Magalong said he would seek an update from the Senate on its 2019 inquiry into the so-called ninja cops in the police force, or officers reselling seized narcotics.
That high-profile investigation led to Oscar Albayalde’s stepping down as PNP chief, after Magalong, a retired police official, testified that Albayalde intervened on behalf of 13 ninja cops in 2013 when he was Pampanga police director.
Albayalde was prompted by that episode to take a terminal leave until his retirement late in 2019. Two years later, he was cleared of graft charges filed by the Department of Justice upon the Senate’s recommendation.
‘Off the hook’
Despite the government’s expressed intention to rid the police organization of ninja cops, a farmer’s group on Monday said the courtesy resignations in the PNP would only allow police officials involved in human rights violations to “evade due process” and be “off the hook.”
“This directive from the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) washes the PNP’s hands of their murder not only of thousands of drug war victims but also of the hundreds of farmers and workers whose organizations they’ve Red-tagged and suppressed,” said John Milton Lozande, spokesperson for Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura.
Lozande recalled a joint operation by the military and police in 2019 which led to the killing of 14 farmers in Negros Oriental province.
That episode led to a “string of promotions” in the police, including that of Central Visayas police director Debold Sinas, who became PNP chief in 2020 and an undersecretary in Malacañang after his retirement the following year.
“There are no substitutes to proper investigations into the police, especially their human rights violations, and into the bureaucrats who have overseen and legitimated their thirst for blood,” Lozande said.
—WITH REPORTS FROM VINCENT CABREZA, FRANCES MANGOSING AND JANE BAUTISTA
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