ERC chief, 2 PNP officials sacked
President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed from government service Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Jose Vicente Salazar, as well as two of the five police generals he had accused of protecting the illegal drug trade.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Monday said that Mr. Duterte had fired Director Joel Pagdilao, former chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, and Chief Supt. Edgardo G. Tinio, former head of the Quezon City police.
The Office of the President found Salazar administratively liable for two counts of simple misconduct and one count of grave misconduct, according to a 20-page decision signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Oct. 6.
Investigators found “substantial evidence” showing that Salazar tried to “influence the process of procurement” and “usurped the power of the ERC as collegial body,” according to the decision.
Abella said Pagdilao and Tinio were found administratively liable for serious neglect of duty and serious irregularity in the performance of duty.
‘Neglect by default’
“The keywords are ‘deliberately refused to perform their duties.’ In other words, neglect by default,” Abella said in a press briefing.
“Evidence shows that both generals deliberately refused, without cause, to perform their duties as police officers resulting in the proliferation of the drug trade in their areas of jurisdiction,” Abella said.
Apart from Pagdilao and Tinio, the President last year accused Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz, retired Chief Supt. Vicente Loot and retired Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo of coddling drug lords.
‘Fed wrong info’
The high police officials denied the allegations, saying the President was fed wrong information by people who wanted to tarnish their names.
Abella said he was not aware if Pagdilao and Tinio would be charged criminally.
“We’re not yet privy whether there are enough evidence to file criminal charges against them,” he said.
The dismissal of Pagdilao and Tinio is in line with Mr. Duterte’s promise to make the nation “crime- and corruption-free,” Abella said.
He also said last week’s dismissal of Supt. Lito Cabamongan, a suspected drug user, highlighted the administration’s “efforts to rid the police ranks of misfits and scalawags.”
‘All necessary penalties’
Salazar was accused of influencing the procurement of the ERC’s audio visual project, and appointed “certain ERC officials and employees without the imprimatur of the other commissioners.”
The dismissal of Salazar carries with it “all accessory penalties, including perpetual disqualification from public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits,” according to the verdict signed by Medialdea.
Last year, the late ERC Director Francisco Jose Villa Jr. accused Salazar of involvement in irregular procurement in the agency. The irregularity drove Villa to commit suicide on Nov. 9, 2016.
Salazar denied the charges, claiming that influential people with vested interests in the energy sector wanted him sacked.
Top ERC officials have yet to act on the order dismissing Salazar, who is under suspension for a separate case of insubordination. —With a report from Ronnel W. Domingo
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