Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima should step down and set an example to the members of the PNP, which has been besieged by allegations of being riddled with corruption, the head of a crime watchdog said on Wednesday.
Teresita Ang-See, founding chairperson of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO), said it is clear that President Benigno Aquino 3rd will not let go of Purisima, so Purisima must take it upon himself to quit his post to save the PNP from sinking deeper into controversy.
The police force can then be overhauled and transformed, Ang-See said after speaking at a joint meeting of the Rotary Club’s Makati Business District and Makati South.
She said she cannot understand why Purisima is practically doing nothing to stop the spike in crimes, particularly the cases of kidnapping and extortion where the suspects are police officers.
Purisima himself has not been spared of criticism. He is being questioned in the multi-million peso renovation of the “White House,” the official residence of the PNP chief in Camp Crame, and for owning a sprawling resthouse in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija.
Ang-See cited the case of Supt. Donato Bait, the Malolos City police chief, who was dismissed after two of his officers were linked to the abduction of a Chinese man. “Why is it that only the Malolos police chief was relieved from his position? How about all the others?” she said.
“So the head has to set an example about the concept of command responsibility…somebody has to set that example because if people under you are erring…how come there is no signal from above that we will not tolerate these,” Ang-See said.
She called for continuity in implementing the PNP’s Transformation Program which she said has been derailed several times.
“The transformation of the police has been the project of all the Chief PNP, but then it gets derailed, it comes back again and derailed again.
There is no continuity in the transformation program,” Ang-See said.
She likened a reorganization to medicine: “You change the ingredients but you do not change the solvent itself. The solution remains the same.”
Ang See recalled a time when the police force had been very effective in fighting crime. “Suddenly there is no manhunt and the kidnap for ransom groups are not being neutralized,” she said.
Sen. Grace Poe is urging Purisima to go on leave while the Office of the Ombudsman investigates the two plunder cases filed against him.
Speaking during the Senate finance committee hearing on the proposed 2015 budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday, Poe said taking an administrative leave would send the right message and avoid suspicion that Purisima might influence the investigation.
“I think that the institution (PNP) itself is worth saving 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 said.
The first plunder complaint against Purisima was filed by Gerard Ricafranca on April 16 in connection to the contract between the PNP and the private courier service company, WerFast Documentary Agency. Firearms and Explosives Office head Chief Superintendent Napoleon Estilles, was also named as respondent in the complaint.
The second was filed on September 22 by Perfecto Tagalog of the Coalition of Filipino Consumers (CFC) who alleged that Purisima misdeclared his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
The focus of Tagalog’s complaint is Purisima’s resthouse in Nueva Ecija which he declared to have a value of P3.75 million.
Purisima is expected to attend the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Poe.
Poe also appealed to DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas, who was at the budget hearing, to recommend to the President that the PNP chief take a leave.
Roxas hesitated, noting that the issue involving Purisima is a very sensitive one and he would rather leave the decision to the President when he returns from the US.
Roxas also avoided issuing statements on the controversies involving Purisima because Purisima was not at the budget hearing to defend himself.
But Poe said she had extended Purisima “so much courtesy already…I feel that it’s unfair to the PNP especially to the others if the topmost person is not even available to defend the institution during the budget hearing or to be able to articulate to us what the institution needs even not for himself, for the people that he is leading.”
She asked Roxas if there is a possibility for him to come up with an order to the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to prioritize the lifestyle check on Purisima in order to put an end to all speculations.
Unless the Napolcom came up with its findings on Purisima, the issue regarding his alleged questionable wealth will continue to affect and bring down the institution.
“I think this is something that the Napolcom and Ombudsman can perhaps fast track. I don’t see any reason why the investigation should drag because if it’s the valuation of property I think it’s glaring,” Poe said.
Poe also asked Roxas where the funds to renovate the “White House” came from and if the money were indeed used for the repair.
Roxas said he did not know the details of the renovation, but was later handed a document believed to be a deed of donation concerning the White House.
Based on the document that Roxas read during the hearing, the PNP received a total of P11.4 million from Carlos Gonzales of Ulticon Builders, lawyer Alexander Lopez for Pacific Concrete Corporation and Christopher Pastrano of CAPP Industries.
Poe said she was confused as to why the PNP took more than three months to come up with the document.
When the controversy surfaced last June, Purisima said the White House needed repair because it was damaged by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009.
The PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Reuben Sindac, had said the funds for the renovation were donated by the Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines of which Purisima is the current Grand Master.
The claim was later denied by some members of the Free Masons who said the brotherhood never made any donation to the PNP.