EXPECT President Rodrigo Duterte to reveal more names of police officers involved in illegal drug syndicates in the coming days, now that he has access to the state’s vast intelligence network.
Duterte has a long list of names for a second wave of revelations, from the rank of Police Officer 1 to Senior Superintendent, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronaldo “Bato” de la Rosa told reporters on Wednesday after meeting with three of five police generals earlier linked by the President to the drug trade.
“Hintayin na lang ninyo. Basta my observation is, I think mayroon pa siyang sasabihin na mga additional na pangalan [Just wait for it. My observation is that the President will divulge more names],” de la Rosa said.
On Wednesday, a police intelligence officer bared that the PNP had obtained intelligence information on some police officials’ links to illegal drugs from no less than the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (USDEA).
“We have a copy of a USDEA report naming some senior PNP officials as having links [to]illegal drug syndicates,” the intelligence operative, who asked not to be named, said.
Another police intelligence officer said the PNP already has a list of 1,500 policemen suspected of having links to illegal drug syndicates.
De la Rosa neither confirmed nor denied the USDEA report but told reporters that Duterte has access to broad intelligence information from local and foreign sources.
“He is the President. His information did not only come from the PNP, [but also from]ISAFP [Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines], NICA [National Intelligence Coordinating Agency] or all government agencies that have intelligence departments. So the President has all the access and all the information,” the PNP chief said.
Palace wants ‘due process’
Malacañang, however, declined to disclose the President’s information sources, saying it wanted to give “due process” to the five generals accused of protecting drug syndicates.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said a “premature release of evidence” against the generals would affect investigations to be conducted.
“The evidence [documentary or testimonial]against the named generals should not be released yet as it may prejudice the administrative and criminal investigation/s and case/s against them,” Andanar told The Manila Times in a text message.
During the 69th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force in Pampanga on Tuesday, Duterte linked five police officials to drugs.
Three are in active service: former National Capital Region Police Office Director Joel Pagdilao, former Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio and former Western Visayas regional director Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz.
Two are retired: former deputy director general Marcelo Garbo Jr. and former chief superintendent Vicente Loot, now mayor of Daanbantayan town in Cebu.
All five senior police officials have denied their involvement in drugs.
Pagdilao, Tinio and Diaz turned themselves in and met with de la Rosa at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame (Quezon City) on Wednesday.
Representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and National Police Commission (Napolcom) were present in the meeting.
The three generals, all upperclassmen of de la Rosa at the Philippine Military Academy, were “emotional,” the PNP chief said.
“Malungkot sila [They were sad] and they want to explain their side and I listened to their side,” de la Rosa told reporters.
He said he told the three generals to “face the music,” and all agreed to cooperate with the investigation to be conducted by the Napolcom.
Tinio, he said, requested early retirement.
“Bahala na [It is now up to] Napolcom,” the PNP chief added.
The Napolcom will hear administrative charges to be filed only against the three active police officials.
The DILG will handle Loot’s case, while Garbo will have to face the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation.
Napolcom Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao said the “supreme penalty” in the administrative cases to be filed against the active officials is dismissal from the police service.
“That’s the most that we can give. The rest of the liability would be handled by the regular courts because our concern in the Napolcom is on the administrative side. That is why I said we would have no jurisdiction anymore with respect to other respondents who are no longer connected with the PNP,” Casurao added.
‘Nothing wrong’ with Duterte’s revelations
Political analyst Ramon Casiple said he saw nothing wrong with Duterte’s move, adding the President was only telling the people the real situation.
Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said supposed involvement of high-ranking PNP officials in the illegal drug trade indicated that previous administrations were not really that serious in the fight against drugs.
He asked: “How come the previous administrations allowed these police officials to carry out their illicit activities without being discovered?”
Generals deny drug ties
All five police generals tied by President Rodrigo Duterte to drugs have denied the accusation.
Director Joel Pagdilao, former National Capital Region Police Office chief, said he was willing to undergo a lifestyle check and face any investigation.
“Wala pong katotohanan na ako ay protektor ng ilegal na droga … Matagal na po tayong lumalaban sa ilegal na droga at lagi nating unang pinag-uutos ay hulihin `yung malaki o maliit man na nagbebenta ng ilegal na droga [There is no truth to the allegation that I am a protector of illegal drugs. I have fought illegal drugs for a long time and I have always ordered the arrest of small or big-time drug pushers],” Pagdilao said in a television interview.
“Almost 32 years na po ako sa serbisyo at hindi po ako nagkaroon ng bahid sa paglilingkod sa ating trabaho [I have spent almost 32 years in service and I have never been tainted by wrong-doing in my job],” he added.
Retired chief superintendent Vicente Loot, now mayor of Daanbantayan town in Cebu, told the ABS-CBN News Channel the President’s accusation was part of “black propaganda,” pointing out that his family is involved in politics.
Former deputy director general Marcelo Garbo Jr., also retired, claimed the President was given “wrong and poisonous” information. “It’s a sad day for people who believe in good governance, righteousness and integrity,” he said.
Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio, Former Quezon City Police District director, decried the ensuing “trial by publicity” following the President’s revelations.
Tinio told GMA News the President should have validated his information before publicly shaming him and the other generals.
“Yung aking maybahay, alam niya ang pagkatao ko. Hindi ko sila pinakain ng galing sa illegal drugs [My wife knows who I am. I did not feed them using money from illegal drugs],” he said.
Interviewed over dzMM on Tuesday, former Western Visayas regional director Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz said there was misinformation on his alleged links to illegal drugs, and dared those concerned to check his records and accomplishments.
“Kung titignan ang accomplishment namin, naging maganda ang performance ko sa Region 6. Hindi lang sa illegal drugs pati sa criminality [If checked, I have a very good performance when I was assigned to Region 6, not just in illegal drugs but also in fighting crime],” he said.
Because of the President’s revelation, Diaz said he feared for the safety of his family particularly his mother, siblings and his children.
“Sana walang masamang mangyari sa kanila [I hope nothing bad will happen to them],” he
WITH PNA AND CATHERINE S. VALENTE