CLARK AIR BASE, Pampanga: President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday named five police officials, two of them retired, allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
In his speech at the 69th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force, Duterte sacked the three active officers from their posts — former National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Joel Pagdilao, Western Visayas regional director Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz and Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio.
The two others are former director general Marcelo Garbo Jr. and former general Vicente “Vic” Loot, now the mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu.
Duterte said he is compelled by a sense of duty to name the police officials “who have contributed to the deterioration of law and order in the country.”
“General Marcelo Garbo, he was a protector of the drug syndicates in the country; General Vicente Loot who is now the mayor of one of the municipalities of Cebu; General Diaz, the former regional director of Region 11; General Pagdilao, former regional director NCRPO; General Tinio, former QCPD director,” he added.
“I would like to talk to them but certainly, I would expect the police commission to talk to them. Imbestigahan ninyo ito at ‘wag ninyo akong bigyan ng zarzuela [Investigate this and don’t give me a zarzuela],” Duterte said.
A zarzuela is a farce in the Filipino language.
Duterte accused the police officials of committing treason because the country spent for their uniforms and education.
Garbo is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, Loot belongs to Class of 1982, Tinio is a member of Class of 1985 while Pagdilao and Diaz are “mistahs” in Class of 1984.
The President said he does not usually humiliate officials but he felt the need to speak the truth.
“I have to tell you the truth and the truth is after so many validations even when I was a mayor of Davao City lumalabas na itong mga pangalan na ito at nakikita mo na ang mga iyon [their names have cropped up]. Marami ng namamatay at marami pang mamamatay at wag kayong sumali diyan maski pulis kayo [Many have been killed and many will die and don’t get involved in this even if you are a policeman] because you will place yourself in the line of fire,” Duterte added.
“I’ve been warning everybody. Do not destroy my country because I will kill you,” he said.
The President asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines to help in the “bloody fight” against those who protect drug lords and syndicates.
“It’s going to be a dirty fight. It’s going to be a bloody fight. I am not apologizing for it,” he said.
“Anumang kaso, under the Revised Penal Code, in the fulfillment of your duties as public authority, akin ‘yan, mine and mine alone. I assume full legal responsibility. Huwag kayong matakot, basta nasa tama tayo [Don’t be afraid as long as we are on the right path],” he added.
Diaz and Tinio denied the allegations, saying the President must have been fed the wrong information.
The two officials dared those concerned to check their records and accomplishments.
“Naging maganda ang performance ko sa Region 6. Hindi lang sa illegal drugs pati sa criminality [I have a very good performance when I was assigned to Region 6. Not just in the campaign against illegal drugs but against criminality],” Diaz pointed out.
Nevertheless, Diaz said he will report to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Wednesday.
Because of the President’s revelation, Diaz said he feared for the safety of his family particularly his mother, siblings and his children.
“I hope nothing bad will happen to them,” he added in a radio interview.
The official clarified that he was not assigned as regional director of Region 11 or in Davao.
Tinio denied any involvement in the illegal drug trade.
“I am not involved in drugs. Even if you look at my record. We were never investigated,” he said in a television interview.
The official admitted that they were surprised by the President’s announcement.
“We were caught unaware and flat-footed. The President must have been given the wrong information,” Tinio said.
Other officials linked by Duterte could not be reached for comment.
A retired police general said even before Duterte made his revelation, the involvement of one of those named was “common knowledge” inside Camp Crame. He described the official as “very rich and influential” in the previous administration.
35 QC policemen sacked
PNP chief dela Rosa on Tuesday ordered the newly assigned head of the QCPD to fire 35 police officers linked to Pagdilao and Tinio.
Senior Supt. Guillermo Eleazar said the 35 officers will be transferred to various police commands in Mindanao.
The highest official was Supt. Jay Agcaoili, chief of the District Special Operations Unit.
Also sacked was Chief Inspector Roberto Razon, who headed the Anti-Drugs Unit when Pagdilao was the chief of the QCPD.
De la Rosa said he received Duterte’s information with a heavy heart but he has to go after all those involved in illegal drugs.
“I am the Chief of the PNP. I have to do my job. It pains me but we have to do this because in as much I do not want to hurt my upperclassmen, I have a duty to perform before the Filipino people. We are accountable to the Filipino people,” he added.
De la Rosa said officials linked to drugs are administratively liable.
Retired officials will also not be spared and will be treated as “civilian offenders.”
“They will go through the usual process. Kailangan mo ng ebidensya. Kung meron you file the case (If there is evidence, we file the case),” he added.
Senators believed that the President has credible information on the supposed involvement of police officers and elected officials in illegal drugs operation.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson confirmed that two of those mentioned by the President are known to have links to the illegal drug trade based on information he got from subordinates in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force or PAOCTF.
“Aside from that, I have no other way of validating the info that the President just exposed to the public. All I can say is, the Commander-in-Chief, more than anybody in this country, is in the best position to have access to all vital and sensitive information and I have no reason to doubt or question its validity,” Lacson said.
He once served as chief of the PNP.
Incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimenel 3rd lauded Duterte.
“Wow! Great job by the President,” he said.
Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd said Duterte will not make such revelations if he has doubts on the information he got.
“His info must be A1 for him to have done that,” Sotto added.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan said no matter who is accused, due process and the rule of law should prevail.
“As long as there has been no final verdict, they should not be subjected to trial by publicity because it is the innocent children and the family who will be affected,” he added.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND NELSON S. BADILLA