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Purisima won’t step down

Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima takes his oath before testifying at the Senate yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima finally faced senators yesterday to deny he has been remiss in his job and to declare he is not giving in to calls for his resignation.

“I’m not turning my back on my sworn duty. I will not let evil triumph. I will continue my service to the nation,” he told the committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Grace Poe.

At Malacañang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Purisima deserved due process.

Coloma confirmed reports that Purisima had talked with President Aquino on Monday. Coloma did not give details.

The hearing yesterday was supposed to be on PNP modernization and reorganization, but the discussions centered on the controversies hounding Purisima including his alleged ill-gotten wealth as well as his incompetence in dealing with the spate of crimes, several of which were perpetrated by police officers.

He began his statement before the committee with an apology for his failure to attend the Sept. 16 hearing. He scoffed at allegations of his incompetence and even rated his performance a nine, on a scale of one to 10.

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“I apologize if I have given the impression that I do not wish to cooperate with the work of the honorable committee. On the contrary as the leader of the national police force, I take responsibility for making sure that the elected representatives of the people are provided information they need to carry out meaningful reforms within the police organization,” Purisima, of PMA Class ’81, said.

Purisima claimed that groups or individuals affected by the PNP’s effort to modernize the issuance of firearms licenses were behind a smear campaign against him.

Prior to the reforms he claimed he had instituted, Purisima said the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) was riddled with corruption.

“In my desire to put the system in order, many have lost a lucrative source of income. Naturally, they would want us destroyed so it would be business as usual,” he said in Filipino.

He said syndicates involved in faking government documents, gun permits, and identification cards for security guards wanted him out.

He lamented that even his poultry business as well as his house that he was able to build using his savings were now targets of his accusers.

N. Ecija property

Purisima, whose monthly salary is P107,000, admitted that he owns a 4.7-hectare property in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija.

The house and lot were reflected in the PNP chief’s SALN for 2012 and 2013. The property has assessed value of P450,000, fair market value (P3.75 million) and acquisition cost (P1.2 million).

Poe said there were inconsistencies in the PNP chief’s statements that he bought the land in 1998 for P150,000 since it reflected in his SALN only in 2002.

The value of the house was initially pegged at P 1.7 million but later increased to P3.7 million due to construction costs, the PNP chief told the committee apparently in a bid to dismiss his critics’ claim that he had undervalued the property.

When confronted by Poe over his property in the province Purisima flip-flopped on an earlier claim that there was no construction of a new house in Nueva Ecija. Purisima said the Nueva Ecija property was actually constructed out of his family’s savings.

Purisima also defended the construction of a new official PNP chief’s residence called “White House” at Camp Crame that was belatedly covered by a deed of donation from concerned friends.

“The contractors aren’t just doing this out of the goodness of heart. As long as you’re in office, alam nilang makikinabang sila (they know they can expect something back),” Poe told Purisima as she confronted the PNP chief why the deed of donation for the White House was made only in recent months at the height of the controversy.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña asked why the PNP chief did not prioritize the need to upgrade facilities at the PNP hospital. “Did you not tell the donors: Thank you for your kindness but you can donate to the PNP hospital first,” he said.

Osmeña pointed out that former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile is under arrest at the PNP Hospital after Purisima reasoned out that the PNP already has a “tertiary hospital” within the camp.

He slammed Purisima for claiming that the funds never went through the PNP chief’s office since the project was under “a design and build scheme.”

“If it were a dog house that they built, would you have accepted it?” Osmeña asked.

Poe said Purisima’s “only saving grace” was his declaration that his successors would also benefit from the construction of the White House.

Purisima also dismissed former PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Sindac’s statement that the White House was donated by the Masons.

Last week, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II revealed during a budget hearing that the donors were Carlos Gonzales of ULTICON Builders, lawyer Alexander Lopes of Pacific Concrete Corp. and Christopher Pastrana of CAPP Industries.

Dubious favors

Osmeña lectured the PNP chief about the impropriety of receiving gifts from friends.

Poe also pointed to Article 211 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices, which bars government officials from receiving gifts in exchange for favors.

But Purisima argued the “entire PNP” would benefit from the White House project.

It was also revealed during the hearing that Purisima had acquired a Toyota Alphard in 2013 for P3.2 million. Poe also noted that a Toyota Land Cruiser was undervalued in the PNP chief’s 2013 SALN – at P1.5 million.

Based on his 2013 SALN, Purisima’s total net worth was P6.563 million while his 2012 SALN showed that his net worth was higher at P8.924 million.

After the hearing, Poe said she felt troubled by the PNP chief’s demeanor while being grilled.

She said government officials should not even seek discounts from car dealers or suppliers.

During the hearing, Teresita Ang-See and architect Ka Kuen Chua of the Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order underscored the need for the police to intensify the operations against kidnap-for-ransom gangs.

See expressed disappointment that kidnap statistics have again increased, adding that the latest kidnap slay of Benito Chan had again caused alarm among the Filipino-Chinese community.

See also lamented the slow dispensation of justice in kidnap-related cases.

Sen. Vicente Sotto, for his part, reiterated the need for the inclusion of kidnapping among crimes punishable with maximum penalty as he called anew for the re-imposition of death penalty.

‘Crucial partner’

Purisima reiterated that the PNP holds the Senate “in highest regard” because it considers the chamber as a “crucial partner of law enforcement in our never-ending labors against crime and lawlessness.”

“I do not deny that your national police force is a work in progress – as all our democratic institutions are,” he said.

He said the PNP “needs to undergo a transformation process to chip away its imperfections and shape its character to become an ideal law enforcement organization that will deserve the utmost respect of the people it serves and protects.”

In her opening statement, Poe condemned the rash of criminal activities perpetrated by rogue cops. She highlighted the latest incident involving eight policemen from an anti-carjacking unit accused by a Pakistani identified as Kamran Dawood of extortion.

Poe said rogue cops should have no room in the PNP organization.

“The restoration of integrity and trust to the PNP should start with the PNP leadership. In times when the integrity of the police is under a cloud of doubt from the public, we need a leader with moral authority to cleanse the ranks,” she said in Filipino.

Poe stressed that only after the PNP has regained the trust of the public that modernization and reorganization programs can proceed with ease.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said the PNP should judiciously follow up cases involving so-called bad eggs in the police force.

Purisima said the PNP has intensified its counter-intelligence efforts to go after rogue cops in the police force. The PNP chief also encouraged victims of illegal police operations to come out and file cases against the suspects.

According to the PNP chief, the PNP keeps a record of police officials reprimanded or relieved for cause.

Trillanes said the PNP should strengthen its Internal Affairs Office so it could properly address administrative cases against police officials.

Meanwhile, militant workers are gearing for a protest action to press for the immediate ouster and prosecution of Purisima.

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chair Elmer Labog said their members are set to gather today at Camp Crame to express their indignation over President Aquino’s continued support for Purisima.

“Aquino should stop protecting corrupt government officials and must order the imprisonment of Purisima,” Labog said.

Labog said Aquino’s support for the PNP chief proved that he is a coddler of corrupt government officials. – With AureaCalica

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