MANILA — Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. will lead a 5-man committee tasked to review the courtesy resignations of top-ranking police, a move meant to cleanse the organization of alleged ties to the narcotics trade, the interior department said on Wednesday.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. rejected the courtesy resignation that Azurin submitted in early January, said Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos.
“Ini-screen na siya (Azurin) at nag-usap kami ng Presidente tungkol dito. Hindi tinanggap ang kaniyang resignation. He is in a position to give recent intelligence report,” Abalos said.
(He was screened and the President talked to me about this. His resignation was rejected.)
Azurin and the following members will make up the committee that would review PNP courtesy resignations, Abalos said.
- Baguio City Mayor and former police general Benjamin Magalong
- Former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro
- Retired police officer Gen. Isagani Nerez
- A member who requested not to be named out of concern for his family's safety
When asked if the review panel’s function would be a redundancy of the National Police Commission’s (Napolcom) function, Abalos said that the panel is needed so that the government could address the drug problem more efficiently.
“Sa Napolcom, gaya ng sinabi ko, it’s a long process. You’ve got to file a case, you’re up against people who have so much money, so much power. Baka bago tayo matapos, hindi na ako nakaupo dito,” he said.
(With Napolcom, it's a long precess. Someone else might replace me before we could even finish.)
AZURIN: PROCESS WILL BE FAIR, OBJECTIVE
In a statement, Azurin said the review process of third-rank police officers would be "fair, objective, and judicious at all stages, making sure that zero tolerance for personal biases and political color shall be observed."
He also expressed his gratitude to Marcos and Abalos for designating him as the committee lead.
"At the end of this exercise, we can be sure that the PNP will be in good and reliable hands of trustworthy 3rd level officers," he added.
Abalos earlier called on all police colonels and generals to offer courtesy resignations after a probe found that a handful of them were involved in the illegal drug trade.
He said they could continue working while their records were assessed. Those found guilty would have their resignations accepted.
Abalos said he hoped the committee could finish reviewing the resignations "in 3 months."
Police officers have killed thousands of alleged drug dealers and users since mid-2016, but critics say the wealthy and powerful have been largely untouched.
Abalos previously described the courtesy resignations as radical and a "shortcut" after previous investigations into allegedly corrupt officers took a long time and produced few results.
It is not the first time such drastic measures have been used to clean up the Philippine police force.
Former president Fidel Ramos cracked down on police in the early 1990s, ordering all officers over 56 years of age or with more than 30 years of service to resign. The chief of the national police and 9 other senior officers resigned as a result.
— With reports from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse