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One crime is one crime too many

Government officials, especially police authorities, are hard-pressed to downplay the recent high-profile crimes as mere blips in the general declining trend of crime incidence in the country. What compounds the public perception of rising tide of crimes is the fact that quite a number of these celebrated crimes involved — if they were not perpetrated by — policemen sworn “to serve and protect” the people.

This is obviously why Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas II has been lately doing the rounds of media interviews and press conferences to show something is being done about this. As the immediate supervisor of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the DILG Secretary is looked upon to give answers to nagging questions about leadership to solve this problem.

But Roxas instead pointed to supposed instructions given to him by President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III to come up with answers to this problem of “how to guard the guardians.” (This sounded like my previous column “policing the police” amid the spate of heinous crimes with policemen as culprits.)

Quoting President Aquino, Roxas promised to do just that in the next few days while waiting for the inputs of the study he has asked of the PNP.

For starters, Roxas ordered the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to come up with audit and inventory of all policemen with pending administrative and criminal cases against them.

Roxas is chairman of the Napolcom board, the agency that metes out disciplinary action on erring cops, ranging from reprimand to dismissal from the service.

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Incidentally, two of the suspects in the September 1 “hulidap” case — SPO1 Rami Hachero and PO2 Jonathan Rodriguez — had been recommended for dismissal as early as last April. However, the PNP Headquarters have yet to act on this recommendation by Napolcom. Hachero peacefully turned himself in yesterday.

Records showed Hachero and Rodriguez were the subject of complaint filed by a certain Ian Gabriel in 2011. After summary dismissal proceedings conducted by Napolcom, they were found guilty of illegal arrest, arbitrary detention, planting evidence and extortion, all of which are elements of “hulidap” case.

We verified information that Chief Inspector Oliver Villanueva, also implicated in this “hulidap,” is the brother of Mabini Mayor Nilo Villanueva of Batangas who happens to be a partymate of Roxas in the Liberal Party (LP). Mayor Villanueva is currently the president of the League of Mayors of the Philippines. His policeman brother remains at large as five others surrendered yesterday.

But Roxas swore to lower the boom on these criminals even if they are cops in uniform. “Walang sisinuhin, maski brod o classmate pa sila!” Roxas vowed. (No one would be spared whether they are brothers or classmates even.)

In so many words, Roxas tried to explain that the PNP hierarchy headed by Director-General Alan Purisima are not treating with kid gloves these crimes committed by scalawags in uniform.

In fact, he stressed, policemen themselves hunted down, captured and arrested these erring fellow cops who shamed their uniforms in committing such dastardly crimes.

The rogues in the police ranks, Roxas stressed, were merely a miniscule part of the 150,000-strong PNP force.

Roxas was willing to give one percent, or about 1,500 policemen, who are the rotten members out of the 99 percent of upright officers and men of the entire PNP. 

Sadly, however, perceptions of high incidence of criminalities and police involvement in high-profile crimes are primary negative factors that turn off foreign investors and businessmen to locate in a country. Ex-Nueva Ecija Congressman Rene Diaz, who is now chairman of the private think tank Center for Strategic Planning and Development, is raising such alarm bells. Perhaps, Diaz suggested, what the PNP needs is someone who can give them what we call in local parlance “golpe de gulat.” And right away, he said, the name of former PNP chief Panfilo “Ping” Lacson comes to mind.

Diaz recalled how Lacson was feared as “the terminator” of dreaded crime groups. Lacson was PNP chief from November 1999-January 2001. Lacson prided himself with imposing “no jueteng” take policy as PNP chief that was cut abruptly by EDSA-2 with the ouster of former President Joseph Estrada.

Lacson went back to public service after he ran and won a Senate seat. During his two successive terms as a senator, Lacson made a difference as a legislator who did not accept “pork-barrel” fund allocations nor did he receive any funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

After his stint at the Senate, Lacson was tapped by P-Noy to become his presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery of provinces severely damaged last year by super typhoon Yolanda. Lacson has submitted his full report on how to carry out the rehabilitation program for the Yolanda-stricken areas.

Diaz cited it’s time for P-Noy to relocate his bright boys in the Cabinet and move them to the right places and positions of responsibility to be more effective in their performance in office. Lacson is one such P-Noy Cabinet member who is “misplaced” or appointed to a position not fully tapping his expertise and skills, Diaz pointed out.

The same sentiments are shared by Rep. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian who urged the current PNP leadership to learn from the leadership style of Lacson. Gatchalian credited Lacson for bringing back order and discipline in the PNP by waging a relentless campaign against policemen who are inept, corrupt and undisciplined or ICU.

Police criminals are more aggressive and even daring, well trained and well armed. The recent EDSA hulidap incident involved nine police officers and men who staged the crime in broad daylight. That’s how police criminals are daring in their commission of crime.

A counter-terminator must be appointed by P-Noy to obliterate these criminals. Lacson fits the job to a tee.

This is not to say Roxas is not doing his job as DILG Secretary. He needs someone though like Lacson to help him do a better anti-crime job at the DILG. If P-Noy has two Cabinet members manning the Agriculture Department, then why not at the DILG?

As Roxas himself said “one crime is one crime too many.” Then, two heads are better than one.

 

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