CAN Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa stamp out the corruption that has hounded the police organization for more than two decades?
A former official of the defunct Philippine Constabulary, the forerunner of the PNP, said corruption is deeply rooted in the police force.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the former Constabulary commander recalled many instances when the PNP top brass are themselves victims of their own men.
“Just imagine how awkward for the PNP chief to disclose in his valedictory speech that while a cleansing program was being implemented in the organization, his only son became a victim of police extortion,” he said.
He was referring to the 2006 incident involving former PNP chief Arturo Lomibao whose son, Arthur Chase, was victimized by a Quezon City policeman.
In his speech during the turnover of command for the next PNP chief, Lomibao narrated that his son had just come from a hospital where he brought his girlfriend when he was accosted by a policeman who told him that it was late.
Arthur Chase told the policeman that he took his girlfriend to a hospital and that he was on his way to his home at the “White House,” the official residence of the PNP chief.
The policeman then asked if he knew the “Chief PNP,” and Arthur said he is his father.
But even then, the policeman still asked money for gasoline.
When Arthur Chase told him that he only had P30 left in his wallet, the policeman said: “Sige, pwede na yan.”(OK, that will do).
When Lomibao learned of the incident, he thought of sending the mulcting policeman to Mindanao. However, he changed his mind and sent him along with some 250 other rogue policemen to Subic, Zambales to attend the PNP’s value formation program.
Another incident involved the son of former PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina.
The extort attempt on Espina’s son happened days before Espina assumed his post as Metro Manila police commander.
Espina’s son, then 22, stopped his car along Hemady Street, several meters away from the PNP headquarters, to make an important phone call when a policeman accosted him.
The policeman accused him of having phone sex which the officer claimed is illegal with a corresponding “fine” of P20,000. If he failed to produce the amount, the policeman threatened to bring the matter to the press.
The young Espina told the policeman that it was just a phone call to his classmate.
Even the daughter and nephew of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo were not spared by mulcting policemen.
During that time, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which has direct supervision over the PNP, was leading a campaign to cleanse the PNP of misfits in uniform.
A former PNP chief in a separate interview said abusive policemen used the government’s campaign against illegal drugs to cover up their criminal activities such as kidnapping, “hulidap” and extortion.
“Early on, even a month before President Duterte took his oath of office, the rogue cops in the guise of legitimate anti-drug operations started silencing their drug employees to cover their tracks. The body count quota that cascaded from higher echelon was their ticket to violate the law, EJK (extra-judicial killing) and all,” he said.
With the PNP losing the trust of Duterte, it is no surprise that the President had to tap the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to continue the campaign against illegal drugs.
“The PNP leadership must show the public that it is truly cleansing its ranks of rogues in uniform at and not just lip service or for show. Violations of the law and human rights should not go unpunished,” he emphasized.
De la Rosa had acknowledged that: “We need to make drastic moves in order to counter this indiscipline in our ranks.”
As part of its cleansing campaign, the PNP activated on Monday its Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF) that will go after misfits in uniform. The police organization also opened a hotline where the public can report corrupt policemen.
Also, Dela Rosa made unit commanders accountable for the infractions committed by their men.
“We will not tolerate it, you’re playing stupid, never knowing that your men were already a member of a syndicate. You must be sacked for doing nothing,” he said.
He pointed out that commanders must be always informed of the movements of their men.
“All the activities of the policemen must be monitored by their commanders.”
The PNP chief said drastic changes will be implemented in the coming days as he instructed the Internal Affairs Service, lower units and the regional directors to hasten the summary hearing of cases involving PNP members.
Dela Rosa has instructed CITF chief Senior Supt. Jose Chiquito Malayo to hit rogue policemen hard.
“I have instructed Colonel Malayo to start the ball rolling, soft opening but hard-hitting. That’s what I want.
There is no room for trial and error here since this task force is a complete package. It has investigators and counterintelligence operatives that will validate and investigate the information,” he said.
To regain public trust, the PNP not only has to focus on grave offenses committed by police officers but even slight misdemeanors such as rudeness or discourtesy.
For sure, the PNP chief has a big job ahead. Cleaning a big organization is difficult. Regaining the trust of the President and the people is doubly hard and will take time.