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FIRING LINE: PNP image in shambles, again

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is in crisis again. It is, perhaps, the most bumped and bruised agency of law enforcement that needs to constantly resurrect its public image from repeated disgraceful death falls.

It has only been a couple of months since Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos demanded that all high-ranking PNP officers tender their courtesy resignations — a move aimed at weeding out the scalawags in uniform and cleansing the ranks of those linked to illegal drugs.

That was a painful pill to swallow for an organization following a chain of command, yet it was done. And that was supposed to do the trick, allowing the PNP leadership to gain moral ground and close ranks against the cancer of illegal drugs that spawns corruption in the system.

But last week, Abalos exposed another dreadful find like a tumor attached to the PNP’s Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG). He questioned the PNP top brass over a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of arrested police Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo Jr. being uncuffed and released by fellow cops.

For those who might not have paid much attention, Mayo was the anti-narcotics cop in whose private office in Tondo, Manila, 990 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” worth P6.7 billion was found and confiscated last Oct. 8. That easily made him the most wanted cop in the country.

The latest word from the PNP is that the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) is filing administrative and criminal charges against 49 policemen involved in that operation to seize the drug haul on allegations they had acted with malfeasance and according to their personal gain and interest.

Apart from the apparent conspiracy to let Mayo loose, couldn’t pilferage of the seized illegal drugs be any more obvious? What drug cop would be brave enough to keep 990 kilos of shabu but be 10 kilos shy of having one ton or more, for that matter?

Sadly, among those being charged is the head of the PNP-DEG, who led the raid on Mayo’s drug hideout, Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo. He has since been relieved of his post and put on floating status under the office of the PNP Chief.

In recent days, Domingo admitted he had authorized the uncuffing and release of Mayo but not to cover up the arrest, as claimed by Abalos, but as a “tactical strategy.” That reasoning has even the head of Senator Ronald dela Rosa, former PNP chief and architect of the past administration’s war on drugs, spinning.

But what troubles me the most is the deafening silence on the issue of Director General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., who has gained my admiration for going against the tide to reform the PNP. He has allowed so many days to pass and, within those days, let so many people talk without confirming or denying Domingo’s claim that he, the PNP Chief, had concurred with that order to release Mayo.

I’m still hoping that this allegation is untrue for the sake of the PNP. However, if this anomaly goes way up to the organization’s top reformer, then whatever is left of the PNP’s good image might be as good as dead.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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