Azurin: No cover-up in drug bust
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. on Monday finally broke his silence by denying the allegation of Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. that there was a massive attempt to cover up the irregularities committed by antidrug agents during the seizure of almost a ton of “shabu” or crystal meth and attempted pilfering of the confiscated drugs in October last year.
While Azurin admitted their ongoing investigation has “opened a can of worms” about the extent of how illegal drugs had infiltrated the PNP, he was quick to defend the entanglement of his two generals in the controversy, saying such were “very unfair” and they should be afforded due process.
At a press conference in Camp Crame on Monday, Azurin said there was no attempt to delay the inquiry of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) 990 into the involvement of officers of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) in the operation on Oct. 8, 2022, in which 990 kilos of shabu worth P6.7 billion were confiscated.
The drug haul was stored inside the Wealth and Personal Development Lending Inc. office in Tondo, Manila, which is owned by dismissed Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo Jr., an intelligence officer of the DEG’s Special Operations Unit-National Capital Region.
“Contrary to what many of our critics say, let me categorically say that there was no attempt to cover up or to exculpate [Mayo] from his involvement in the illegal drug operations,” Azurin said.
“Why start a fact-finding task group in the first place if there was no intent to dig deeper in the drug mess, which obviously continued to persist through the years,” he added. “The SITG’s findings will prove wrong the critics’ claim that there was an attempt to derail the investigation.”
For the outgoing PNP chief, Abalos should beware and take a second look at his own people, who might be “feeding him misinformation to cast doubt on the integrity of the PNP.”
‘The real enemy’
“While I join the good SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government) in the fight against erring personnel in the police force, let us focus on the real enemy here—which is the shabu and the drug syndicates,” he said.
Despite reports that Abalos and Azurin had not been on speaking terms since last week, the PNP chief said his relationship with the secretary remains “very professional.
We don’t let our differences affect our work.”Asked on why it took a week for him to air his side after Abalos’ unscathing revelations, Azurin said he wanted to give the implicated officials time to explain their side.
Of the 10 officials named by Abalos to be investigated by the National Police Commission’s fact finding board, two were generals: Lt. Gen. Benjamin Santos Jr., who was then deputy chief for operations, the third-highest official in the PNP; and Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo, who was then the director of DEG.
Both Santos and Domingo also denied there was a cover-up. Azurin defended both the actions of his generals, which he said had clearance from him, and also vouched for their good track record. INQ