PNP purge of ‘narco’ cops goes down to lower ranks | Inquirer News

PNP purge of ‘narco’ cops goes down to lower ranks

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:36 AM January 13, 2023
Jonnel Estomo

Jonnel Estomo

The planned purge of police officers with alleged drug links continued down to the lower ranks of the Philippine National Police in Metro Manila after almost 90 percent the country’s police colonels and generals had tendered their courtesy resignations, according to a statement by the national capital police.

Police Maj. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), on Thursday summoned 43 first- and second-level officers who were found allegedly involved in illegal drugs and placed on its “counterintelligence watch list” (CIW).


Only 31 of them appeared on Thursday at the NCRPO headquarters at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. The highest ranked was a lieutenant.

The CIW tagged 18 as “protectors” and 11 as extortionists. Five were “recycling,” three were using and another three helped in the “proliferation” of narcotics. The counterintelligence group also found one selling, another distributing and a third possessing drugs.


Addressing the officers who showed up for the “dialogue,” Estomo reiterated Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos’ call on the police top brass to resign and challenged the 31 who were present to also resign, and to submit to an investigation by an adjudication board to verify their involvement in illegal drugs.

There was also a surprise random drug test, to which all the officers agreed to undergo.

A month to check

As a rule, any officer found positive in a drug test would be “automatically deemed resigned” from the police service.

A statement by the NCRPO to reporters, who were not informed about the meeting, said the drug test results were not immediately available.

Estomo and 66 colonels and generals of the NCRPO also underwent a drug test last week and none of them was positive for meth or marijuana use.

He gave the adjudication board one month to determine whether the 43 officers were involved in illegal drugs.

“If they are involved, we will file cases against them, if not, we will clear them,” he told the adjudication board, which would be headed by police Brig. Gen. Jose Hidalgo Jr., deputy regional director for administration.


Denial, surprise

Many of the police officers who were summoned said they were “confused” and “dismayed” about their inclusion on the watch list, which was made by the Regional Intelligence Division whose sources included other officers and informants.

According to a police official who was present but requested not to be identified as he had no authority to speak with the media, one of the 31 denied he had illegal drug dealings and asked for a copy of the intelligence report implicating him. Another said he was already cleared by a previous investigation and was surprised that he was still on the list.

Duterte’s list

Estomo told them to submit their explanations to the adjudication board, which would make rectifications based on its own findings.

Hundreds of policemen were implicated and identified in former President Rodrigo Duterte’s “narco list,” which authorities said had more than 6,000 names, including politicians and other prominent personalities.

In February 2017, Duterte ordered 287 “scalawag” police officers (253 of them assigned to the NCRPO then) to be deployed to Mindanao, particularly to the Muslim autonomous region.

88% have ‘resigned’

That move was criticized by both local and national officials. Mujiv Hataman, the regional governor then, said the Muslim area should not be “a dumping ground for erring and corrupt police officers involved in illegal drugs.”

By 2020, the PNP national adjudication board had conducted two investigations of 707 personnel allegedly connected to illegal drugs—357 in the first and 352 in the second.

There has been no official announcement on the results of the investigation.

As of Thursday, Abalos said 88 percent, or 841 of the 954 colonels and generals of the PNP, have submitted their courtesy resignations and that the number of those who offered to step down was increasing.

Of the resignations offered, 714 were from colonels, 126 from generals and one from the inspector general of the Internal Affairs Service (whose rank is equivalent to a lieutenant general).

“This is a positive manifestation that the majority of those in the PNP are partners of the government led by President Marcos in cleaning up their ranks. This is truly an ‘act of honor,’” Abalos said in a statement.

“This just shows to the Filipinos that the PNP is supportive of the ongoing internal cleansing in order to regain the trust and faith of the public to the organization,” he said.

Abalos expects the 113 other high-ranking PNP officials to also submit their courtesy resignations even before the start of the reviews by an independent five-member committee and the National Police Commission.

PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. was among the first to submit his resignation, expecting the other PNP officials to follow his lead.

Abalos said the evaluation by the committee could be finished in “two to three months”—before Azurin retires on April 24 and a new PNP chief is appointed by the President.


PNP: Over 800 top cops submit courtesy resignation

Nearly 600 generals, colonels heed call for courtesy resignation of PNP top brass

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