Who are the honest policemen?

11
DR. DANTE A. ANG

DR. DANTE A. ANG

That was the question I asked former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sometime in mid-2001 while serving as her Senior Presidential Consultant on Public Relations. It was an honorific, P1-a-year position.

I posited that question to the President in the face of the alarming number of kidnapping incidents victimizing mostly Filipino-Chinese and the growing reports of involvement of some members of the police and the military in the illicit drug trade.

At that time, kidnappings occurred almost daily and in some cases, the victims were killed even after they had paid a hefty ransom. The Filipino-Chinese community was up in arms against the government for its failure to curb crime. Teresita Ang-See, a crime-fighting leader of the Filipino-Chinese community in the country, was at the forefront of the campaign to try and stop kidnappings and other heinous crimes.

Arroyo did everything she could to protect the public from criminals. PGMA as we fondly call her, was deep into finding a solution to fighting crime. A succession of meetings with her police and military generals were held and concrete actions were implemented. But each time a campaign was launched, it failed. Kidnappings and reports of drug busts continued to hog the headlines.


As early as 2001, former President Arroyo already had a strong suspicion that some members of the police and the military were involved in illicit drugs and kidnapping. What to do?

“Who among the police and the military could we trust?” I asked the President. “I know there are many honest members of the police and the military but can you confidently point them out to me?” I added. The President kept her silence and looked at me straight as if waiting for my next word.

So I pressed on. “Why don’t we set up a parallel investigation group that will report directly and only to you?” “How?” she asked. “Why don’t we hire a retired agent from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who will investigate who among the police and the generals are into kidnappings and drugs?”

Like vintage Arroyo, her reply was short and clear. “Ok,” she said. And so off I went to the US Embassy and spoke to a high-ranking embassy official. “My visit was both official and unofficial. Official because I have the clearance from our President Arroyo to talk to you; unofficial because if this thing comes out in public, she will disavow any knowledge of this,” I said.

I was advised to wait for their response. Meanwhile, I met with some members of the Filipino-Chinese community over lunch in a Chinese restaurant along Roxas Boulevard. I repeated what I had said to the US Embassy official, that my meeting with them was “official yet unofficial.” They clearly understood.

They agreed to pay the salary and expenses of the retired US DEA official. It was, after all, for their own good and they were ready to cooperate with President Arroyo to rid society of kidnappers who threatened them daily. They asked me to thank the President for her concern for their safety and for coming up with an out-of-the-box solution to the kidnap-for-ransom problem that plagued not just the Filipino-Chinese community but the nation as well.

Some weeks later, I received a call from the US Embassy official who informed me that they had identified and talked to a retired US DEA agent, who resided in Hong Kong. The retired DEA agent had been briefed by the US Embassy and was prepared to meet with me, I was told. I was advised to wait for further notification. It would seem that everything was a ‘go’ at that point.

My contact at the Embassy called again a few weeks later. He dropped the bad news. I was devastated. He told me that the retired US DEA agent had backed out. “Why?” I asked. In a rather apologetic tone, the official told me that, “The agent backed out because he said the drug/kidnapping problem was too pervasive and too deep that involves key people in government, including the police and the military.” I had that impression that the agent himself was scared for his own life. Imagine that.

Several months later, (I think it was in 1992) Arroyo would appoint Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte as her anti-kidnapping czar. Kidnapping incidents declined considerably as a result.

I am revisiting this episode of the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime to impress upon our government officials, more particularly President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the critical need to contract the services of an impartial, trustworthy and competent investigators who would look into the involvement of police, military personnel, and other government officials into the illicit drug and kidnapping issues that rip families and the nation apart.

That some police and military personnel, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, some elected and elective officials, are involved in the illicit drug trade is a given. Duterte himself had said so.

That’s precisely the prevailing sentiment of our people. How sure are we that the investigators probing the involvement of the police and the military and government officials are themselves not members of a drug syndicate?

To completely obviate any suspicion of a whitewash or an impression of a crook investigating the other crook, it would serve the President to consider appointing not the NBI, not the police or the military, or even the members of the judiciary, to look into the drug and kidnapping menace.

Perhaps, Duterte can tap the services of retired Hong Kong or Singapore police to look into the involvement of our own police officers and agents, military, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, media practitioners into the illicit drugs trade and kidnappings, and see if their salaries and attendant expenses are shouldered by some businessmen. This will prevent any possible legal complications.

I say this because the recent killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa inside his cell has spawned public suspicion that he was silenced by a group of high-ranking policemen who are themselves into the illegal drugs trade. This is a serious accusation and could have dire consequences on Duterte’s credibility as a crime fighter should he fail to take the bull by its horns.

If he cares about saving his campaign against illegal drugs, Duterte should unmask the rogue policemen and PNP officials who are into the illicit trade and bring them to justice. Doing so would reassure the public that there is no truth to the perception that the killings of alleged drug pushers/users by the police are intended to silence them.

Duterte should ask himself: “Who can I trust among my police, my officials, and my generals?”

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11 Comments

  1. I would like to agree with your article Sir Ang| but I am thinking that probably: we can trust the young generation of Pinas. There are a lot of youth who doesn’ t want to call themselves evil. Sir, I would like to view the future brightly| if we are part of the few OLD people who can be considered good: then we must join forces to mold these Young Blood into becoming the best Soldiers of God/ Jesus Christ they can be.

    I hail the young ones, for they still are less sinners than the old :)

    Thank you Sir Ang for this article| I am pretty sure it did open a lot of Pinoys’ minds about Good Change :)

  2. Every politically aware Filipino knows the reality that much political campaign funding is sourced from criminality facilitated by police. From gambling lords condoned because “jueteng” is considered a victim-less vice, to extortion shake-downs targeting Chinese or Indians because victimization of foreigners elicit less public sympathy. Worst of all are these narco or ninja cops.

    It takes only one good cop who like Serpico willingly testified truthfully about the crimes of his fellow cops to bring the system of corruption down

  3. The writer wastes his time with all that he says about this.

    The matter is systemic in the Philippines. It does not do anything about reminiscing the past. It merely makes the writer a sick second hero. And sick second heroes abound in the Philippines.

    The Philippines is a failed State because corruption in all its forms destroys the moral fibre.

    God forbid that the Philippine tertiary education will one day in the future provide Degree Courses in Corruption and it will be accepted. Accepted so that the citizens are confident that the best corrupted persons are democratically empowered to protect their life.

  4. Duterte should ask himself: “Who can I trust among my police, my officials, and my generals?”
    – He already is asking this question as he fears for this life.

  5. Our trust towards the police, in particular, and those in power, in general, has gone down at its lowest. Du30’s ascent to power was an indication of how much people did not trust trapos anymore. If Du30 fails us, ano pa kaya?

  6. Its very hard to pinpoint those police personnel who are not involve in protecting drug syndicate and not only police but government officials occupying higher position after all money is involve here. Better not hire a foreign expert to do the job but a homegrown intelligence officer can do thr job provided he is a person of integrity. It will gain results. After all not all police officers could be blinded by the glitters of money there are also dedicated ones and patriotic to the service.

  7. couldn’t agree more. maybe too late, though, given that duterte was reported to have been dismissive of what happened. perhaps he couldn’t do anything at this point and that the enemies are simply to many and too powerful? who knows?

  8. A parallel investigation is good. We common people can only surmise legitimate business people helped put up the DU30 presidency anyway. A better state than narcopolitics. Who knows we might see an “art imitates life” thing so the movie industry say of the many twists and turns of a story like the legal pinning down of untouchable drug lord Al Capone on tax evasion. A look at PH and its SC supposedly as the court of last resort however one would ask in the same vein who are the honest judges?

  9. Yes there are a lot of corrupt cops and government officials in the Philippines. These government officials have their own illegal activities most especially those who have influential positions in the government like Estrada, Revilla and the Binays. They are so rich that their greediness towards wealth is so exponential that they can no longer stop it. Its like they are addicts to corruption.
    For the other groups who are targeting the Chinese, do you blame them for they take advantage of the poor Filipinos. Drive these Chinese away from the Philippines.

    • Yes, blame the Chinese.While your’ at it why not blame the Americans, Japanese, Indians, Arabs, Malaysians, Indonesians, British, Europeans, Russians, Israelis just about every nation in the world that invests here and keeps this hopeless country alive. Lets see, what do rich Filipinos invest here, nothing? Lets have a nation of shoulder to shoulder Sari Sari stores, earn p300/ 16 hour day, cost p500 (assuming you pay the required VAT, taxes etc, not likely).Poor Filipinos, the whole world is out to take advantage of you. Trouble is you don’t know the meaning of “an honest days work for an honest days wage”. As to Foreigners, ask the Aboriginals who are the Foreigners who took the most advantage of them and treated them the worst, YOU!!!