By Leonel Abasola and Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA – Senator Ronald Dela Rosa on Sunday urged Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. to disclose everything he knows regarding the involvement of police officers, including two generals, in the alleged coverup of the PHP6.7 billion shabu bust in Tondo, Manila last year.
“Sana sabihin niya (Gen. Azurin) ang lahat ng nalalaman niya tungkol sa halos isang toneladang shabu (I hope he would tell all what he knows about the almost one ton of shabu),” Dela Rosa said in a radio interview over DZBB.
“Ang advice ko sa kanya is humarap sa media, ilahad niya ang lahat ng kanyang nalalaman and that will put everything to rest. At ‘yung mga haka-haka, speculation about cover-up, mahihinto ‘yan pag siya nagsalita. Because he is the final say sa organization na ‘yan, siya ang head ng ahensiya, so dapat na siyang magsalita para malaman ng lahat, para matapos na ang lahat ng ispekulasyon (My advice to him is to face the media, reveal everything he knows and that will put everything to rest. And the speculations about the cover-up, that will stop once he speaks. Because he is the final say in that organization, he is the head of the agency, so he should speak so that everyone will know. It will end all speculations),” he added.
Dela Rosa, Azurin’s upperclassman at the Philippine Military Academy and the first PNP chief of the Duterte administration said they would meet when he visits Camp Crame Monday morning.
The senator will be the PNP’s guest during the flag-raising ceremony.
Azurin promised to break his silence on the alleged attempt of PNP top officials to cover up the arrest of dismissed Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo Jr., tagged in the shabu haul in October 2022.
Col. Redrico Maranan, PNP spokesperson, said Azurin would give a public statement once all reports surrounding Mayo’s arrest come in.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos has named 11 officials, including two-star generals, allegedly covering up the arrest of Mayo.
Dela Rosa likewise advised the officials in the controversy to seek comfort from their wives.
“Ang advice ko sa kanila, puntahan nyo ang asawa nyo. Doon ninyo iiyak ang lahat ng sama ng loob Ninyo, sa asawa nyo. Ako, noon, ganon din ang sitwasyon ko. Wala akong ibang iniiyakan tuwing gabi kundi ang asawa ko. Kung wala kayong kasalanan, wala kayong dapat katakutan (My advice to them is, go see your wives. Cry all your troubles to your wives. This is what I did when I was in that same situation. I cry to no one else every night but my wife. If you did nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear),” he said.
The senator lauded Abalos for policing the PNP and advised him to file charges against erring members of the agency.
Dela Rosa said the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs that he heads would immediately conduct the investigation once Resolution No. 564 filed by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. is referred to the body.
Revilla sought a probe to uncover the truth behind Mayo’s arrest and release, allegedly with the approval of top PNP officials.
The PNP welcomed the move of Revilla as it would give them an opportunity to explain.
Swift and thorough
House Speaker Martin Romualdez said the investigation into the shabu haul must be swift and thorough.
“Let the ax fall where it must because police involvement in this alleged cover-up, especially anti-drug operatives, cannot and should not be tolerated,” Romualdez said in a statement on Sunday.
He expressed dismay that those accused of alleged involvement are “the very same people tasked to go after peddlers of illegal drugs.”
“But while an in-depth investigation to ascertain the truth is being undertaken, measures to reorganize the police force’s drug unit should be implemented,” he said.
Demoralization rocks PNP ranks
At a press briefing in Camp Crame also on Sunday, a high-ranking official admitted the PNP is suffering from demoralization.
“Very obvious (the demoralization among PNP personnel). Sa tagal naming iniingatan ang aming uniporme, inaasahan namin na may mga ganitong pangyayari (For as long as we have been keeping our uniforms, we expect such incidents to happen) but it’s a matter of perception,” PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management Director, Maj. Gen. Eliseo Cruz, told reporters.
On Saturday, 49 policemen, including Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo, have been recommended to face criminal and administrative cases in connection with the 990-kilogram shabu haul.
Cruz said Domingo, who was relieved from his post as PNP-Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) chief, has been assigned to the Office of the Chief PNP.
He said it puzzles him why top officers get into such a controversy, and what daunts them is when they file complaints against their colleagues.
“Hindi talaga biro pero ito nga ‘yung aming pinili naming trabaho at eto lang ‘yung alam naming trabaho pero (It’s not a joke but this is the job we have chosen and this is the only job we know but) for every offense committed by our own personnel, we are the complainants. Kami ang dapat magrereklamo. Hindi pupuwedeng wala kaming pakialam kasi kami ito eh. Kami ang bumubuo ng PNP at kami ngayon ang matagal na sa PNP although ito lang ang alam naming trabaho (We are the ones who should complain. We can’t be indifferent because this is us. We are the ones who form the PNP and we have been in the PNP for a long time, although this is the only job we know). It really affects the morale of our organization so we, as senior officers, we encourage our men to continue with our daily jobs,” he added.
Cruz said the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) 990 conducted 21 case conferences that ended March 31. Copies of the report have been sent to Azurin and the National Police Commission.
The SITG also recommended continued case build-ups by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to further strengthen the criminal charges that will be filed; that CIDG and the intelligence group locate other dangerous drugs taken away by the Special Operations Unit 4A and Intel & Foreign Liaison Division; the immediate relief of other PDEG personnel involved and to relegate them to purely administrative functions like sentinel/honor guard duties; that all PDEG personnel undergo Squad Weekly Interactive Meeting once a week to maintain strong relationship with fellow personnel and to provide continuous guidance; strengthening the vetting process of personnel to be assigned to PDEG; and financial investigation and lifestyle checks on PDEG personnel every six months. (With reports from Zaldy De Layola/PNA)