By Jennifer P. Rendon
“Extraordinary times call for radical and bold actions.”
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. raised this point as he explained the rationale behind his appeal for third level police officers to tender their courtesy resignations.
While the public might have diverse takes on his call, Abalos believed that it is well-received among high-ranking members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Of the 953 third level police officers, 935 already submitted their resignation. Only 18 out of 953 have not yet tendered their resignation. It’s not a bad number. That in itself would answer the question of how they took it,” he said.
Abalos also thanked the 935 who have taken the challenge.
“Ako’y nagpapasalamat because they have addressed this issue as an institution. Right now, my responsibility, yung tiwalang binigay sa akin, the trust that was given, I would make sure that there would be a very, very fair proceeding there. Talagang napaka importante ‘yun. It’s giving justice to what they did,” he said.
As to the 18 other officials, they have until the end of the month to comply.
But Abalos stressed that with or without the call for resignation, the crackdown against illegal drugs continues.
WHY THE GENERALS AND COLONELS?
With his call concentrated on high-ranking policemen, Abalos was pressed on what will happen to elective government officials, other law enforcers, and even members of the judiciary who might have drug links.
“Bakit the generals and colonels lang? Because they’re supposed to be the ones that should actually apprehend these drug lords,” he said.
Abalos said there were triggers that made him make such a call.
First was the arrest of Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo in October 2022.
Mayo’s arrest led to the confiscation of almost a ton of suspected “shabu” worth P6.7 billion, one of the largest hauls in the history of drug enforcement.
Two months later, a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) official and two agents were arrested in a drug bust at the agency’s headquarters in Taguig City,
“It was the PNP chief himself, General Rodolfo Azurin, who informed me that it’s about time that we call for the resignation of those high-ranking,” he said.
Abalos said that following Azurin’s advice, they met with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and the rest is history.
He cited that third level police officers hold very critical and sensitive positions.
Kumbaga, parang control center yan eh. Papano gagalaw ang operation sa baba. That’s why there is this call,” he said.
Abalos said that all the things they have compiled and all the evidences will be given to a five-person vetting committee and let them decide who will be chosen.
“But let me emphasize, from this five-man committee, they would now determine whose resignation would be accepted. And once they get the list, this list of who would be accepted would have another process. It would now go to the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM),” he said.
Abalos said NAPOLCOM will not go through those resignations that were accepted.
“If there are 20, the NAPOLCOM would only look into the 20. Just to make sure that it’s thoroughly filtered because we don’t want that an innocent person would be dismissed. Mahirap sa lahat ‘yun,” he said.
Abalos also assured that there would be no let-up in the case build-up until the prosecution of the officials involved.