INTERIOR Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. announced that almost 60 percent of some 900 Philippine National Police (PNP) officials have heeded his appeal for them to file their courtesy resignations.
Abalos expects the number to grow in the coming days, all as part of the government drive to clear the PNP ranks of officers linked to drug trade.
At the same time, Abalos said police estimates show that only 3 to 4 percent of the police officials are linked to the drug trade.
He said authorities have names, but they still have to “scrutinize and filter them out.”
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s better that one single guilty person be left off the hook than one innocent be held as guilty,” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines..
He earlier directed colonels and generals to submit their courtesy resignations to pave the way for the cleansing of the ranks.
So far, some 540 colonels and generals have submitted their resignations.
He also said there have been delays in the receipt of the courtesy resignations because of the procedure in the PNP.
He said each officer from every command unit is required to go to their respective provinces, meet their troops, explain the occurrence, collect signatures, and then go back to Manila in order for the resignation process to push through.
In terms of the deadline, Abalos said he is expecting the officials to submit their resignation by the end of the month.
When asked what would happen to those who refuse to resign, he said he and other officials are still “thoroughly discussing things of what to do with them.”
PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. led the other top officials in tendering their courtesy resignations
Abalos said what prompted him to ask top PNP officials to resign was the recent arrest of Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo Jr. in a drug bust that yielded P6.7 billion worth of illegal drugs.
Another sting operation that netted former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Southern District Office Chief Enrique Lucero also pushed his decision to appeal for sweeping reform in the PNP.
According to the Interior secretary, these brought to light the severity of the problem and how critical these personalities are for the institution as they hold sensitive positions.
PNP chief advice
Abalos said it was Azurin who advised him to call for the mass resignation, which they eventually discussed with President Marcos.
“It is their advice. Si chief PNP mismo nagsabi sa’kin. So we had discussions with the president about this and we informed him about this,” he said.
Why the resignation call?
When asked why he called for courtesy resignations instead of directly going after the officials suspected to be involved in the drug trade, Abalos said there is a need to do internal cleansing now lest these officials move up the hierarchy in the next several years.
“Ang pinag-uusapan dito kasi is that ang kalaban dito mabibigat. They’ve been here for so long, hindi sila na wipe out. And mind you, these are very sensitive positions, very critical. Imagine, if we’re not going to do this right now several years from now, they could be on the hierarchy of the PNP,” he said.
He also said this cleansing operation was intended to regain the trust of the Filipino people for the PNP system.
No leadership vacuum
The resignations from the top PNP officials will only be effective if they are approved. In the meantime, those who have already tendered their resignation will still be serving their respective duties.
“Hanggat hindi tinatanggap ang resignation mo, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang serbisyo. ‘Wag silang mag-iisip na there will be disruption of services, etc. Wala pong leadership vacuum at all,” said Abalos.
Once the resignations have been accepted, he said the resigned officials would be treated the same as those who filed for early retirement.
But if grave evidence is found linking them to the illegal drug trade, he said criminal charges would be filed against them.
The five-man advisory committee
Abalos has formed a five-member team that will lead the reviews of the intelligence reports on the drug trade.
One of the five is Baguio City Mayor and retired police general Benjamin Magalong.
According to Abalos, this advisory group will have to review the courtesy resignations and check if the officials have links to the illegal drug trade. This panel will also be responsible for collecting evidence of the drug involvement.
After the review, the panel will submit recommendations to the National Police Commission. Napolcom will follow the same process.
Abalos said the investigation and review would last up to three months at most.
He declined to name the other members of the review panel.
Banner courtesy: Official Gazette