By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Police officers involved in illegal activities, especially in illegal drugs, should receive twice the punishment for violating their mandate to uphold the laws of the land, Interior officer-in-charge (OIC) Eduardo Año said.
Año, in an interview with Communication Secretary Martin Andanar, said he is still giving erring police officers, a small percentage of 180,000 cops, a chance to reform as he expressed that more help is needed to make President Duterte’s drug war a success.
However, the former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff admitted that changing the public’s negative perception on the Philippine National Police (PNP) will not be an easy task even if only a small percentage of the police force is involved in illegal activities.
“Mahabang proseso ito, kasi hindi mo ito mababago overnight eh (This will be a long process because reforming the PNP will not happen overnight),” Año said in his interview with Andanar over Radyo Pilipinas.
“Alam mo 180,000 iyong kapulisan natin eh kung iko-compare mo talaga iyong mga gumagawa ng kalokohan, napakaliit na porsiyento, pero dapat wala talaga, kasi iyon iyong sinumpa nating tungkulin eh (You know, we have 180,000 policemen and if we compare it to the rogue ones, they are only a small percentage. But there should be nothing at all),” he added.
Año said rogue cops should receive twice the punishment but expressed that these police officers are not hopeless cases.
“Dapat ang parusa doon sa mga pulis na gumagawa ng ganiyan, doble iyong parusa kasi binigyan ka ng mandato para ipatupad ang batas tapos ikaw iyong lalabag (These police officers should receive twice the punishment because they are the ones violating their mandate to uphold and enforce the law),” he said.
“Sa akin, mayroon pang pagkakataon na magbago sila at tumulong para labanan itong drugs at itong mga tao na ito, mayroon naman tayong listahan niyan (For me, there is still chance for them to change and help fight illegal drugs. We have a list in the first place),” he added.
Año said the same thing of politicians who are involved in the illegal drug trade, one way or another.
“Ito iyong tamang pagkakataon na i-give up nila at the same time tumulong sa kampanya kasi wala naman tayong sasantuhin dito eh (This is the right time for them to give up their connection and help in the campaign because we will spare no one),” he said.
“Kapag hindi sila sumunod sa ganiyan ay talagang hindi lang sila matatanggal sa serbisyo o sa puwesto, talagang sisiguraduhin natin na makukulong sila (If not, they will be removed from service and I will make sure they will land behind bars),” he added.
“If you believe na somehow nag-tolerate kayo, nag-protect kayo (that somehow you are tolerating, protecting drug personalities), come out and then we will help you. We will help each other. We will not consider any sacred cow,” he continued.
Año was just reappointed by Duterte to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC from DILG Undersecretary for Public Safety after retiring from the AFP late October 2017.
He was Duterte’s original choice to be DILG Secretary but the President had to follow laws prohibiting retiring police or military officials from being appointed to government positions for one year.
Año’s predecessor, Undersecretary Catalino Cuy, was reappointed as the new Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chair, replacing Dionisio Santiago whom Duterte asked to resign due to his negative comment about the mega-drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija.
Start from scratch
Año said that in order to reform the PNP, they have to start from scratch and trace where the problem is originating.
“Kailangan pag-aralan mo iyong papaano na-develop iyong kultura or kagawian na bakit may mga pulis na gumagawa ng illegal at nawawala sa landas (We need to study how they developed this kind of culture of getting involved in illegal activities),” he said.
“Pag-aaralan natin mula doon sa pag-recruit, iyong training niya, iyong deployment niya at iyong kaniyang mga orientation ay pag-aaralan din natin lahat iyan (We will look into the recruitment, training, deployment, orientation, everything),” he added.
In November 2017, Duterte said he is looking into a total revamp of the PNP as he disclosed that there are still a lot of rogue cops in the organization despite his promise to “double” their salary.
“I’ll tell you the truth, PNP, National Police, there are a lot of scalawags there,” Duterte said in a press conference following the closing of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits.
“Doblado na sweldo mo. Sana ‘wag naman akong makarinig ng kinokolektahan mo, kinikikilan mo. Sana naman ho (Your salaries will be doubled. I hope that I will not hear that you will still be extorting the Filipino. Please),” he added.
According to Duterte, it may come down to a total revamp as a last resort if pleading with the PNP will not work.
“Maybe we’ll have to revise everything. I said I need time after the busy days to ponder on it, sleep on it, and maybe come up with something,” he said.
Duterte said forgiving erring policemen does not work anymore as some return to their extortion activities.
“Kung papatawarin mo nang papatawarin, tapos loko-loko talaga (If you keep on forgiving but he’s really like that), an idiot would drag the entire PNP down to the drain,” he said.
However, Duterte acknowledged that not all apples inside the basket called the PNP are rotten.
“It’s not fair because most of our law enforcers, the police and even the National Bureau of Investigation, there are still few good men left there,” he said.
The PNP has not been in a good light recently due to the involvement of some members to extortion, planting of evidence, extrajudicial killings, and human rights violations, in relation to Duterte’s drug war.
The PNP were stripped off their authority over the drug war for a month due to some officers’ involvement in the killings.
Before 2017 ended, the Mandaluyong police chief and 10 others were relieved from their posts following a fatal shooting incident which left two dead.