Top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) led by chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. on Thursday submitted their courtesy resignations.
The move came after Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. appealed to police colonels and generals to do so to rid the police force of those linked to illegal drugs.
Aside from Azurin, other ranking officials who submitted a courtesy resignation are deputy chief for administration Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia; deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Benjamin Santos Jr. and chief of the directorial staff Maj. Gen. Michael John Dubria.
“This call of SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government) is a test of individual character. And as an answer, I am taking the lead to submit myself to such evaluation, assessment, and scrutiny by the committee. We, in the uniformed service, are trained and prepared and are expected to prioritize public service over personal interests. Similarly, I support and uphold the guidance of our beloved President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to every policeman to keep our integrity untainted and to do our best to uphold the moral ascendancy of the PNP and to ensure the continuity of public rapport,” Azurin said in a press conference at Camp Crame.
He said PNP Internal Affairs Service director Alfegar Triambulo, a civilian, will also submit a courtesy resignation.
“The appeal for courtesy resignation particularly addressed to our senior officers is a wakeup call to all PNP members, to reflect on how and what has happened in our respective careers. We must contemplate among ourselves if our contributions to the PNP have made it better or worse in the eyes of the public we took an oath to serve,” he added.
Azurin said all colonels and generals of the police force have until Jan. 31 to submit their courtesy resignations.
A five-member committee which is independent of both PNP and DILG will be handling the assessment and evaluation process.
“We respectfully demand the members of the said committee to maintain their reputation of impeccable character, probity, fairness, and unquestionable integrity throughout the process,” he said.
He said the careers, reputations, families and even lives of these third-level officers, built for 30 years or more,were in their hands.
Azurin said fewer than 10 officials are on the list of those who are allegedly involved in illegal drugs, but he did not name them.
He said police officials who would be cleared after the vetting process would be made public.
“Definitely we will inform the public so that nobody will tell us, ‘it’s only you and your colleagues inside the organization who conducted the probe’,” Azurin said, adding that he already discussed the matter with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Azurin also said the process will not affect the benefits of officials who are already due for retirement.
Azurin also ordered a restructuring of IAS, Integrity Monitoring and the Enforcement Group and the PNP Drug Enforcement Group whose functions are mainly focused on internal cleansing and the anti-drug drive.
“And to give more teeth to our disciplinary machinery, our processes in IAS must be further improved to pave the way for a speedier disposition of cases,” he said.
Azurin said a stronger vetting process among personnel of these units and among all key positions in the PNP will be implemented with “strong resolve.”
“Similarly, our counterintelligence efforts must step up to protect the integrity of all police undertakings,” he added.
Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) expressed support for Abalos’ call.
“We believe that the said radical approach to full-fledged colonels and generals will greatly affect the organization in cleansing the ranks and will further improve the operations on the grounds,” NCRPO chief Gen. Jonnel Estomo said in a statement, adding that he has already tendered his courtesy resignation.
CIDG chief Brig. Gen. Ronald Lee said CIDG officers who have an untarnished reputation and integrity should heed the call of the DILG chief.
“Our reputation reflects who we are. As an officer and a gentleman, I accept the challenge of SILG. As a member of the PNP, I support whatever the decision of the PNP chief,” he said.
At the press conference, Azurin said some ranking officers refused to file their courtesy resignations.
Some said they would not resign because this was their bread and butter and their career that they built over 30 years.
But he said it was the PNP, not them, that was on trial and they should prioritize the interest of the organization.
Local government officials, meanwhile, expressed their support for Abalos’ call.
The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) expressed its support to Abalos’ appeal for all high ranking police officials to submit their courtesy resignation to facilitate the internal cleansing campaign of the PNP.
“The call of Secretary Benhur Abalos is necessary in upholding the principles enshrined in our Constitution, particularly the prime duty of the state, through the PNP, to serve and protect its people,” said Baguio City Mayor and LCP secretary general Benjamin Magalong.
Magalong said the league believes that it is an opportunity to purge the PNP of a few individuals advancing their selfish interests that hurt the entire PNP.
“The league sees that this appeal is an opportunity to defend the honor and sacrifices of police officers who put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe,” he added.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte also expressed full support to the call, saying it is part of the DILG’s efforts to eradicate the bad eggs in the PNP hierarchy who serve as protectors and coddlers of drug syndicates.
House committee on dangerous drugs chairman Rep. Robert Ace Barbers also supported Abalos’ bid to clean the ranks of the police.