929 top cops heed courtesy resignation call; 24 more yet to resign
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) is now waiting for 24 remaining senior police officers to turn in their courtesy resignations in support of the government’s bid of ridding the police force of ties to the illegal drug trade.
PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. on Monday said 929 or 97.48 percent of their 953 police colonels and generals have so far tendered their courtesy resignations.
“I am pleased to announce that the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management has received the courtesy resignation letters of 929 police colonels and star-rank PNP officers,” Azurin said in a news briefing.
This leaves only 24 high-ranking officers who have yet to heed the quit call until January 31.
Azurin noted that this development came only 12 days after Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., with the go-ahead of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., publicly appealed for the PNP’s top brass to voluntarily step down from their posts.
Azurin expressed “satisfaction, admiration, and respect to all these fine gentlemen for heeding the call for change and reformation in the police organization and for putting the interests of the nation on top and over personal desires and considerations.”
The country’s top cop then “respectfully demand[ed]” for the five-member committee tasked to evaluate and pin down PNP officers with alleged drug ties to “be objective, fair and circumspect in all their undertakings during the process.”
“We are expecting that they will maintain their impeccable character and integrity so that the result of all their evaluations will be acceptable for everyone. Similarly, we appeal that the process will be devoid of personal and political biases,” he added.
Among the 24 top-ranking PNP officers that have yet to submit their courtesy resignations are two generals and five colonels that will retire within the first quarter of this year, said Azurin.
“The rest, we believe…I hope they are still finding discernment. Pinag-iisipan mabuti if they are going to file or not. Baka iniisip nila, anyway, January 31 pa naman ang deadline, so we are hopeful that they would eventually also submit their courtesy resignations,” he added.
(The rest, we believe…I hope they are still finding discernment. They are still thinking about whether they are going to file or not. Maybe they’re thinking that the deadline is still on January 31, so we are hopeful that they would eventually also submit their courtesy resignations.)
Vetting process in blurry detail
Aside from retired police general and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the other members of the five-member panel have yet to be disclosed to the public.
But Abalos earlier noted that the National Police Commission (Napolcom) will also be adding another layer to the evaluation of top PNP officers before the results are forwarded to President Marcos for necessary action.
Abalos sits as chairperson of Napolcom, and Azurin is the ex-officio commissioner.
The names of the top PNP officers found involved in the drug trade, however, will not be disclosed to the public, Abalos added.
When asked if this would defeat the purpose of the internal PNP’s cleansing program and deny transparency in the initiative’s developments, Azurin said he will raise these concerns with Abalos.
He also vowed to push for clearer guidelines and parameters, not just by keeping the public in the loop, but also by how the five-man committee and the Napolcom will comb through the senior PNP officers and decide which of their courtesy resignations will be recommended to the President.
Azurin said that after he discusses these issues with Abalos, the PNP, as an attached agency of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), will respect and abide by his directive.
According to the DILG chief, if the evidence against senior cops with alleged drug links is not enough to build up a strong case, they will just “retire peacefully.”
But he later pointed out that “the process does not end upon the acceptance of [the] courtesy resignation.”
“Even if a police official is allowed to retire for the time being, the monitoring and investigation must continue, to gather evidence that may lead to eventual criminal prosecution. We must always act within the rule of law,” Abalos said.
Meanwhile, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. slammed Abalos’ pronouncement as he noted that the government’s approach in weeding out police officers with drug ties is only helping them evade accountability and escape justice.
“Iyong mga pulis na sangkot sa iligal, bibigyan ng graceful exit at retirement. Pero kapag ordinaryong tao, [extrajudicial killings]. Bakit ganito?” He said in a tweet.
(Police involved in illegal practices are given graceful exits and retirement, but for ordinary people, it’s extrajudicial killings. Why is it like this?)