Aquino praises Roxas, defends police chief Purisima
President Benigno Aquino III on Friday praised Interior Secretary Mar Roxas for the reforms he instituted in the police force.
He also defended Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima from criticisms, saying the top cop is a leader of a “police force that fulfills its responsibilities.”
In his speech before allies and the “responsible opposition,” President Aquino blamed the media for Purisima’s and the PNP’s woes, criticizing them for not highlighting the achievements of the PNP as much as they put “sensational crimes” on their newspapers’ front pages.
“It is indeed dismaying sometimes, because we see that if a sensational crime [happens], it [makes] the headlines; [but] if the crime is solved, we [have] to scour the pages for a small report on Page 20,” Mr. Aquino said.
“Is it too much to ask that reportage on crime be balanced? And because the solution is not adequately covered by [the] media, it cannot be avoided, then, that a number of our countrymen continue to believe that the Philippines is a dangerous and lawless country,” he said.
Police caught scalawags
Mr. Aquino’s defense of Purisima and the entire police force came on the heels of the arrest of nine policemen suspected of robbing two people in broad daylight on the belt highway Edsa on Sept. 1.
“As a matter of fact, yesterday, there were calls for General Alan Purisima, our chief of the PNP, to resign from his position because of scalawags in the ranks of the police. Might I ask: Is this the first time that we have seen scalawags in the police? It might be true that there are some scalawags in uniform, but who, after all, caught those who held up a businessman [on] Edsa? It was the police, as well, under the leadership of General Purisima who investigated, pursued, and caught those lawless elements—who, today, are facing the appropriate [charges],” the President said.
“On top of this, a plethora of crimes has already been solved, including high-profile cases. In the light of this, is it fair to call on General Purisima to resign when he is leading a police force that fulfills [its] responsibilities?” Mr. Aquino said.
“In fact, the image of the PNP has undergone a vast transformation. This is likewise caused by the transformation that is taking place within their ranks—not only in the new equipment, or the care that the state gives them, but also from the new culture that is taking root in the system. Before, once a suspect had been identified, police considered their job done. Today, those in charge are relentless in their pursuit and will not consider a case solved until they have suspects in custody,” he said.
The President credited Roxas for the “systematic and scientific method” now being employed by the PNP in crime-solving. Mr. Aquino boasted that this has led “to more reliable results.”
“I have actually heard that there are some who wish to remain in the old, luck-driven systems where crimes were solved only in sporadic bursts; not everyone, of course, would want to be held accountable for their deliverables. My directive to Secretary Mar: Deepen our knowledge of crime based on the data we have gathered; widen the scope of the programs that have proven successful. After all, when we see a successful system, it is incumbent upon us to double our efforts, so as to improve the situation even more,” the President said.
Mr. Aquino said that aside from the arrest of high-profile suspects, “change is also very clearly manifested in the numbers,” citing the latest data from the National Capital Region.
He said that in the capital, the 31 cases of homicide a week have dropped to 20.
The President also lamented the spread of false news, such as the alleged kidnapping of a student from an exclusive school, which turned out to be a hoax.
“Even after that first text message, members of our police force acted quickly to determine the true situation. What resulted from the investigation and from coordination with that prestigious school: No student was missing,” Mr. Aquino said.
The PNP thanked Mr. Aquino for his kind statements.
“The PNP is thankful for the President’s continued trust and support for our ability to carry out our duties to the people. This will be our inspiration for us to continue our crime-fighting efforts to serve and protect,” Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, spokesperson for the PNP, said.
In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Sindac urged fair and balanced presentation of the news.
“Like what the President said, crimes are highlighted but when these are solved, these are relegated to the inside pages,” Sindac said.
The PNP has come under fire for policemen involved in crimes, most recently in the robbery on Edsa on Sept. 1.
Sindac said the PNP chief had adequately dealt with the case and that Purisima could not be faulted “if he preferred to focus on [his] job.” With a report from Julie M. Aurelio
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