MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he believes that sacked Bacolod police chief Senior Supt. Francis Ebreo served as a protector of those involved in the illegal drug trade.
“It seems to me that at the very least, he’s a protector. He might not be into [the] trafficking business but he was really a protector,” Duterte told reporters, referring to Ebreo.
“I cannot believe that with all the available information available to every chief of police or city police director for that matter assigned, that they would not review the record of the province in terms of criminality and drug trafficking.”
Duterte sacked Ebreo and four others- Senior Supt. Allan Rubi Macapagal, Supt. Richie Makilan Yatar, Supt. Nasruddin Daud Tayuan, and Senior Insp. Victor Paulin- for their supposed ties to the drug trade.
The President met with the police officials in
Malacañang on Tuesday afternoon, days after he fired them.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte “expressed his frustration as to why they had no knowledge about the presence of certain personalities in Bacolod who are involved in the illegal drug industry.”
The five police officials are relieved from their present posts pending investigation, Panelo added.
“This swift action of the President is a timely warning to other PNP officers that the President will not tolerate incompetence and inefficiency in the police force, especially with respect to the Administration’s crusade versus illegal drugs.,” Panelo said.
“While our efforts in destroying the illegal drug apparatus should remain firm and relentless, we take this occasion to reiterate PRRD’s (Duterte's) position that he will support policemen resorting to force only when the same is inevitable as when, in the performance of their duties, a suspect sought to be arrested performs aggressive and violent resistance amounting to an actual or imminent threat to their lives and limbs.”
Police had come under fire over alleged use of excessive force in anti-drug operations, with human rights groups tagging them in summary killings. The administration has denied this, saying drug suspects slain in legitimate police operations had violently resisted arrest.
Malacañang and the Philippine National Police leadership have defended Duterte’s sacking of the police officials even while they have yet to give more details on the officers' alleged role in the illegal drug trade.
Duterte’s long-time aide, Bong Go, said the policemen also denied any involvement in the illegal drug trade during their meeting with the President.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency also said the five police officials have no derogatory record.