MOST pure is what “purisima” means.
Chief of the Philippine National Police Alan Purisima should live up to his name and go on administrative leave. Senator Grace Poe suggested this yesterday at the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the proposed 2015 budget for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) of which the PNP is a bureau.
Chief Purisima’s going on leave, said Senator Poe, would send a good message and kill suspicions that Purisima might influence the investigation into the top policeman’s allegedly hidden and unexplained wealth.
Senator Poe said Mr. Purisima’s noble act of going on leave would help save the PNP as an institution (PNP) itself “in terms of the morale of the police officers. So I hope that at the very least, without saying that anybody is guilty, administrative leave will send a good message.” She added that going on leave would also allow the PNP chief to focus on defending himself against the two plunder suits he is facing at the Ombudsman.
A plunder complaint can only be filed if the amount in the alleged corrupt transaction is at least P50 million.
One of the suits, filed last April, is about a questionable contract he approved three years ago between the PNP and a private courier service company, WerFast Documentary Agency. Named as Purisima’s co-respondent in this complaint is Firearms and Explosives Office head Chief Superintendent Napoleon Estilles.
The second case, filed by the Coalition of Filipino Consumers (CFC) on September 22, alleges that Chief Purisima wrote misdeclarations in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to hide his true wealth.
Senator Poe chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. She expects Chief Purisima to attend the committee’s coming hearing during which he will be asked about controversies surrounding him and the PNP, such as why there is a nationwide surge of crime, many of which involve drug-ring rivalries and police officers engaged in kidnapping and hold-ups.
Senator Poe took the opportunity at the Finance Committee budget hearing to request Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, who has some oversight powers over the PNP, to make a firm recommendation to President Benigno S. Aquino to advice the PNP chief to go on leave.
Secretary Roxas said the matter of Chief Purisima was a very sensitive issue that only the President should tackle himself when he comes back from the United States.
We can predict what President Aquino would say about Senator Poe’s suggestion.
The President, speaking in the US on Tuesday (yesterday Wednesday Manila time) to reporters for Philippine media defended Chief Purisima from allegations of corruption. He said he had known Purisima since 1987 when the PNP chief was still part of the Presidential Security Group under his mother, the late president Corazon Aquino.
The President was seen on nationwide TV here in the Philippines standing by the PNP head. In Tagalog he said, “I have never seen this man [Purisima] to live luxuriously or to be greedy.” Purisima was protecting the young Benigno S. Aquino 3rd when his convoy was ambushed in a failed coup attempt against his mother in 1987.
Without preempting the Ombudsman about whether the complaints against Chief Purisima should be brought to the Sandiganbayan for trial, we agree with Senator Poe that Mr. Purisima should go on administrative leave.
It would be a mark of Mr. Purisima’s high sense of honor and delicadeza. It would also be a rare act that will show that at last someone really close to President Aquino truly and sincerely believes in the “Tuwid na Daan” slogan.