MANILA -- Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. on Monday asked Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos to "take a second look on people who may be feeding him misinformation to cast doubt on the integrity" of the organization.
In a press conference in Camp Crame, the country's top cop said Abalos' accusations against some senior members of the service and insinuations of a coverup are "very unfair".
"We are accusing generals. Ano hong ebidensya natin?" he said.
Abalos brought up last week an alleged “massive attempt to cover-up" the arrest of Police Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo Jr., based on an investigation conducted by the National Police Commission (Napolcom) on the multibillion-peso drug operations in Tondo, Manila in 2022.
Abalos tagged 10 high-ranking policemen in the alleged cover-up.
"While I join the good (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government) in the fight against erring personnel in the police force, let us not lose focus on the real enemy here, which is shabu and the drug syndicates," Azurin said.
Citing the findings of the PNP's own special investigation task group led by M/Gen. Eliseo Cruz, Azurin said they were on the right track, and that they were on the way to identifying the people behind the alleged pilferage of 42 kilos of shabu from the 2022 drug raid in Manila.
The raid led to the arrest of Mayo who has since been charged and removed from the service.
This has also led to the recommendation on the filing of criminal and administrative cases against 49 cops, including former Police Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) Director B/Gen. Narciso Domingo for their involvement in the operation.
"There was no attempt to exculpate MSgt. Rodolfo Mayo from his involvement in the illegal drugs operations. Why start a fact-finding task group in the first place if there was no intent to dig deeper into this drug mess?" said Azurin.
He hinted at alleged efforts of drug syndicates to sow discord between the Interior department and the PNP, as well as intrigues to preempt Cruz's findings about the involvement of police officers in the alleged drug pilferage.
Some officers present in drug busts may have been unwittingly compromised by drug syndicates bent on disrupting government, he said.
Azurin said pilferage could also have taken place in major drug busts in Pampanga, La Union, and Baguio City.
"Is it not baffling that parels of shabu keep popping up around the country--particularly in provinces up north--despite the PNP Drug Enforcement Group's relentless operations?" he asked.
Azurin said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has given them intelligence about the involvement of some officers in the recycling of illegal drugs.
They are going after these cops, he added.
The PNP chief said he and Abalos are on the same page in the war on drugs, but he underscored that evidence and credible intelligence should be used to pin down suspects and due process should be accorded to all.
Azurin, who is set to retire next week, said he has spoken with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and has advised him to choose his successor carefully.
Despite the controversy, he said he leaves behind a better PNP.
"I still dream for a transformed PNP organization--where no PNP officer is involved in the use, possession, manufacture, trade, or selling of illegal drugs."