Next PNP chief must be firm on drug war – Azurin
MANILA, Philippines — Outgoing Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said he would want President Ferdinand Marcos Jr/ to be “discerning” in choosing the next leader of the police.
“I want to forewarn the president because it’s very critical for him to choose the next PNP chief,” Azurin, the first to lead the national police under the Marcos administration, said at a press conference in Camp Crame on Monday.
He said drug lords would want it to be “business as usual” under the next PNP leadership, “because under my tenure, drugs have no business with us.”
“I hope the next chief PNP will have the same resolve as me. Otherwise, all will be for naught,” he said.
Azurin’s superior, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, presented in a news conference last week video footage showing some officers transferring to several vehicles packages of crystal meth or “shabu,” during a raid last year, which yielded P6.7 billion worth of drugs.
The Oct. 8, 2022, raid, which took place two months after Azurin’s appointment as PNP chief, turned out to be the biggest drug haul yet by the police.
Abalos had called on several police officials, particularly those in the PNP Drug Enforcement Group, to go on leave, pending an investigation.
By the end of the week, 49 officers were found liable for the alleged cover-up of irregularities in that raid.
Azurin, who is due to retire next Monday, has broken his silence and denied there was a cover-up in that operation. He noted in his press conference the proliferation of drugs in the country’s northern regions.
“Is it not baffling that parcels of shabu keep on popping up around the country — particularly in provinces up north — despite the PNP Drug Enforcement Group’s supposedly relentless operations?” he said.
“As I have said, it seems the illegal drugs would soon reach the Ilocos region,” he said of his home region and that of Marcos.
Abalos on Monday said he had yet to submit names to the president for the next possible PNP chief.
Earlier, he said he would recommend only one name, but stopped short of identifying that officer “out of delicadeza.”
Nevertheless, the interior chief said the police officer he had in mind was “very good” at his work, citing his role in a police raid in Baguio City on March 29 which led to the seizure of P4 billion worth of shabu.
Among the president’s choices for Azurin’s successor are the three top officers of the PNP’s command group — Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, deputy chief for administration; Maj. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, deputy chief for operations; and Lt. Gen. Michael John Dubria, chief of the directorial staff.
Others who may be considered are Maj. Gen. Benjamin Acorda, chief of the Directorate for Intelligence; Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr., director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group; Maj. Gen. Edgar Alan Okubo, director of the National Capital Region Police Office; and Maj. Gen. Eliseo Cruz, head of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management.