MANILA – Retired police general and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has been named as among the five-member committee that would scrutinize records of ranking officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and come up with a recommendation to either clear them or dismiss them from the service.
In a radio interview on Friday, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said Magalong agreed to join the committee.
“Sabi ko, matapang ka (Magalong) naman, baka puwede sabihin ko muna pangalan mo (member of the committee), yun naman pumayag naman siya (I told him ‘you are a brave person’. I said maybe I can announce that you are a member of the committee, to which he agreed),’’ Abalos said.
Earlier this week, Abalos called on police colonels and general to tender their courtesy resignation in a radical move to weed out those who have links to illegal drug activities.
Abalos, meanwhile, said he cannot reveal the identities of the other members due to security reasons but said the body would be composed of other professionals.
The committee, which is independent of both the PNP and DILG, will be handling the assessment and evaluation process.
Abalos also vouched for Magalong’s integrity.
“Nakita mo naman yung integridad, credibility ng taong ito, napakalinis talaga nito (We are a witness to his integrity, credibility, his image remains untainted),” he added.
Magalong, who retired from the service in 2016, formerly served as PNP deputy chief for operations, the third highest post in the police force.
He also headed other offices such as the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and served as chief of the Police Regional Office in Cordillera (PROCor).
The DILG chief, meanwhile, said while his call was an appeal and not an order, they are now studying measures to be taken against those who would be found involved but did not elaborate.
Abalos, meanwhile, appealed for understanding among police officials, noting that “extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions”.
“It would be worse if they (ninja cops) are in the institution and they will be the ones to make the policy. At least we must do something about this. I know some are not happy about it, and others are even mad. But there is a challenge for the PNP. So once and for all we address this issue as an institution,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.
With the deadline for the submission of courtesy resignations set at the end of January, Abalos remains hopeful that the whole assessment process of the PNP colonels and generals will conclude in two to three months.
Magalong, in a separate interview, said he is not surprised by the DILG chief’s bold move, citing that he has already received information about some cops linked to the illegal drug trade.
“Nakakalungkot na maski alam mo na may mga matataas na opisyal e may link sa drug dealings, minsan kulang ka ng ebidensya kaya matagal ang pagkuha ng ebidensya, matagal ang pag-file ng kaso (It is quite sad that even though there are high-ranking officials who are linked to drug dealings, sometimes you lack evidence, that is why evidence gathering and the filing of cases take a long time),’’ Magalong said.
Magalong added that he understands Abalos’ frustration over the issue and described his act as a “move in the right direction”.
He noted that the majority of the members of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) also expressed support for Abalos’ call.
Dare for ‘innocent cops’
In a radio interview, PNP chief, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., called on the group of supposed “innocent PNP 3rd Level Officers” to identify themselves after they issued an open letter calling for him to make the “supreme sacrifice” and step down from his post.
“Inosente pala sila bakit ayaw nila magpakilala, dapat lumabas sila because they are innocent (If they are innocent, why don’t they want to be identified, they should come out because they’re innocent),” Azurin said in a separate radio interview when sought for a comment.
Azurin said while the move is “drastic,” it will help the organization as a whole as it would weed out the good from the bad.
“We are here now in the cleansing process where we have asked our third level officers to submit themselves voluntarily because it is said that these are the future leaders, these are the future officers that will be leading the PNP organization,” said Azurin.
Azurin said the move will benefit police officers who are next in line.
“So do they want that when their time comes, the problem they will face is still like this? Isn’t it good that now, let’s cut it short, let’s see who among our third-level officers has a chance to rise and is clean? Those who are spotless and have the moral ascendancy to lead the whole national police,” he said. (PNA)