MANILA (UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he had removed the power of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to procure equipment following his discovery it had acquired grossly overpriced traffic radars.
In his speech before members of the Philippine Marine Corps in Taguig City Monday, Duterte said he had stopped the PNP from procuring traffic radars priced at P950,000 each.
“So napuna ng mga intelligence na 'yong radar no'ng sa traffic, P950,000. Close to a million. Hindi natin nakita. Nandoon 'yong mga... But akala ko 'yon 'yong the whole of the --- 'yong paglagay ng 950,” he said.
(The intelligence unit noticed that the traffic radars cost P950,000. Close to a million. We did not see.)
“Pulis talaga oh. 'Yong... Akala ko 'yon ‘yong the whole gamut of… Iyon pala isa. So nagtawag 'yong intelligence, kasi ako sa Davao nagbili ako ng speed gun. Si Inday. Siya nagbili. Ten thousand lang ang isa.”
(These police officers... I thought it was the whole gamut, but turns out that's the cost of each one. So I called for intelligence (officers), because in Davao I bought speed guns. Inday (Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte) bought them... just P10,000 each.)
The Chief Executive said he had delegated the procurement for PNP equipment to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, whose office has jurisdiction over the PNP.
“Kaya nagalit ako kagabi. Tinawagan ko si General Año. Sabi ko, 'Tanggalin mo 'yang procurement. Hindi na maka-procure ang pulis.' Si Año na ang magbili para sa inyo,” he said.
(That's why I got mad last night. I called General Año. I said 'Remove procurement, the police can no longer procure.' Año will buy for you.)
Duterte said his order was meant to be a warning for corrupt government agencies.
“It’s a warning, lahat ng mga opisina. If you will keep on f****** the people’s money, I will remove the procurement powers sa inyo (from you). Ako na (I'll be the one),” Duterte told reporters in an ambush interview following the program.
An exasperated Duterte said he would establish a department tasked solely for the procurement of government supplies.
The PNP on Tuesday apologized to Duterte and said it respects the commander-in-chief's decision.
"Humihingi tayo ng paumanhin sa ating pangulo at nagdulot ito ng misunderstanding but naroon na po 'yung pasya ng pangulo, tayo po ay gumagalang at tatalima dito," PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac told reporters.
(We would like to say sorry to the President that this caused misunderstanding but he has decided, we respect that and will comply.)
The PNP said it would fine tune its proposal in its explanation to Año, who has ordered the police to explain the huge price disparity.
Banac said the price reflected an entire micro digital camera system but that specifics were mixed up during the presentation.
—Report from Pia Gutierrez and Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News