Azurin leads five-member panel on ‘narco cops’ purge | Inquirer News

Azurin leads five-member panel on ‘narco cops’ purge

Rodolfo Azurin Jr. STORY: Azurin leads five-member panel on ‘narco cops’ purge

Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. I(NQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. will lead a five-member committee that will decide the fate of over 900 police generals and colonels who have resigned their posts as part of an internal process to cleanse the PNP ranks of officers with suspected ties to drug syndicates.

The other members are former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, retired general and Undersecretary Isagani Neres of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs, and, as previously announced, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, according to Secretary Benhur Abalos of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).


The last panel member declined to be publicly identified, Abalos said in a Palace briefing on Wednesday.

The inclusion of Azurin came as a surprise, as both he and Abalos earlier said neither of them would be part of the panel to dispel any possibility of the current PNP leadership influencing or interfering with the committee’s findings or decisions.


Azurin was among the first PNP officials to submit his courtesy resignation on Jan. 5, a day after Abalos made the appeal for the “radical” cleansing of the police force.

But according to the DILG chief, Azurin had already been screened and President Marcos did not accept his resignation.

“He is needed there, the Chief PNP to also, you know, steer the committee,” Abalos said, noting that Azurin had access to intelligence reports that might be useful to the body.

He said the other panel members were known for their “unquestionable integrity, credibility, and untainted reputation.”

“I am definite that this advisory group shall remain apolitical throughout the process of screening and in the end, penalize only those guilty and involved in the illegal drugs trade,” Abalos said.

Last holdout

As the deadline set by Abalos for courtesy resignations elapsed on Tuesday, a total of 12 officials have not stepped down from their posts, although five of them had already retired while six were soon to retire, leaving one holdout out of the organization’s 955 colonels and generals.

Abalos declined to identify or give any information on the last holdout.


Asked why this one official did not comply, Azurin said: “According to him, that’s his personal prerogative.”

Abalos said the DILG would respect the official’s decision and no sanction would be imposed on the person, but “we will find out why he refused.”

All 943 PNP officials who submitted their courtesy resignations have agreed to undergo a review by the committee, which shall check if they have links to illegal drugs in one way or another.

Abalos said the PNP and the DILG may suggest guidelines on how the committee would do the screening process, but it will be “very independent, and we will let them decide on their own.”

3-level screening

A resignation that is accepted will be taken as an indication that the officer has been found to have some involvement in narcotics—as a user, protector of drug traders, distributor or an extortionist who victimizes both complainants and offenders.

After the first screening by the Azurin-led committee, the names of police officials with suspected drug connections shall be subject to another screening by the National Police Commission (Napolcom), which will submit a list to the President.

According to Abalos, the Napolcom evaluation may trim down the list of names from the screening committee.

During the entire process, the PNP officials who turned in courtesy resignations shall remain in the police service until these are officially accepted by the President.

Azurin will be included in two of the three-level screening of the police officials—in the five-member committee and in the Napolcom where he sits as an ex-officio commissioner.

Abalos serves as Napolcom’s ex-officio chair as the head of DILG.

In a statement, Azurin thanked Mr. Marcos and Abalos for assigning him to lead the committee, saying he saw it “as a recognition of the trust and confidence.”

“With this tall order, I assure all the third-level officers of the PNP that the processes to be undertaken will be fair, objective and judicious at all stages, making sure that zero tolerance for personal biases and political color shall be observed,” Azurin said.

“At the end of this exercise, we can be sure that the PNP will be in good and reliable hands of trustworthy third-level officers,” he added.

Azurin retirement

Abalos said the screening process should be finished within three months—or before Azurin retires on April 24 and his successor is appointed by the President.

He earlier said there was no need to publicize the names of PNP officials whose courtesy resignations would be accepted by the President because of their involvement in the illegal drug trade.

“Now, if we have enough evidence that would build up criminal cases, pursue them in court as mandated by law. If not, if you do not have that strong evidence but it was seen that they had involvement, let them retire peacefully,” Abalos said.

But even if a police officer is allowed to retire, “the monitoring and investigation must continue, to gather evidence that may lead to eventual criminal prosecution,” he said in response to criticisms that erring PNP officials were being given a graceful exit.


Azurin vows unbiased review of PNP top cops, ‘zero tolerance’ for political, personal bias

DILG told: Ask input of mayors, governors in review of PNP top brass

Committee purging PNP of drug ties has varied composition

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Drug war, narco-cops
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

News that matters

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.