MANILA—A 30-minute dressing down from President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this week put the Philippine National Police to shame, its spokesperson said Friday, admitting its credibility took a hit over the involvement of some officers in a drug recycling scandal.
The PNP is the chief implementor of the president’s brutal drug war, which has killed over 5,000 suspects, alarming human rights groups here and abroad. They believe the death toll is much higher.
But only 454 policemen have been banished from the organization as of Sept. 20 this year for drug-related cases, according to official PNP data.
Only 102 of them were dismissed for cases such as narcotics possession or sale, or coddling drug pushers. The rest were removed for testing positive for drug use.
Duterte spent a fourth of Tuesday’s 2-hour command conference in Malacañang telling top police officials about his disappointment over the drug recycling scandal, said Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, the PNP spokesman.
The President reminded the group how much support he has been providing the police force in the form of equipment and higher salaries, Banac said.
“Napahiya talaga kami, napahiya kami dun. Yuko nga mga ulo,” he told ABS-CBN News.
[We were really ashamed. Our heads were bowed.]
“We take it positively. We take it as a challenge to recover.”
The scandal led to the resignation of PNP chief Oscar Albayalde, who was accused of protecting his former men who allegedly resold millions of pesos worth of meth seized during a 2013 Pampanga raid.
Albayalde, who was the provincial director then, has denied the accusation.
“Negative ang naging perception ng public kaya kami naapektuhan din kami,” Banac said.
[The public perception was negative and it affected us.]
The change in leadership will provide a “fresh start” for the PNP to go harder on rogue police officers and focusing more on “high-value” targets in the narcotics trade, he said.
Those involved in drug recycling—known in PNP parlance as “ninja cops”—no longer exist as a syndicate, he said.
But some of them may have still continued keeping portions of a drug haul in their individual capacities, Banac said.
“Kakaunti lang talaga and yet ito 'yung mga nagbibigay ng negative image sa PNP,” he said.
[They are few but they give a negative image to the PNP.]
INTERNAL AFFAIRS SERVICE
A House bill has been filed to separate the Internal Affairs Service from the PNP to allow a more independent investigation into police misdemeanor.
“If Congress views it differently... we are ready to discuss it further,” Banac said.
“For now, we prefer na status quo lang. Parang at ease na din kami na nand'yan sila to be our watchdog.”
[For now, we prefer the status quo. We are at ease that we have them as our watchdog.]