‘Probe PNP chief for graft’

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - November 1, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - For receiving donations for his official residence and a huge discount for a Toyota Land Cruiser, the Senate has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to determine if Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima should face graft and corruption charges.

The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Grace Poe also cast doubt on the integrity of the PNP chief, who enjoys the support of President Aquino despite being embroiled in various controversies recently.

The findings were contained in a 23-page committee report submitted before plenary as Congress went on All Saints’ Day break on Wednesday.

“The overarching tenet governing government service is sweepingly and summarily stated in Article XI, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution: Public office is a public trust,” the report said.

Apart from good moral character and sound mind, the panel said Purisima should exude moral uprightness.

“The members of law enforcement are demanded a higher sense of good character,” it added.

The Senate panel reiterated that the PNP chief “is exacted highest qualifications and a sense of honor, a granite commitment to uphold the law and the strictest discretion to pursue order.”

Disparity in SALN

The panel also asked the ombudsman to look into the disparity between Purisima’s assets listed in his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) and reports of his other assets.

“Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. No one is exempt. Certainly, on this score, much more is expected from the chief law enforcer of the land as the leader of the police force tasked with enforcement of law,” Poe said in the report.

It added the panel cannot “close its eyes as to the possible violation of the PNP chief of the above-listed statues so as to eradicate all doubt in the public’s mind that our police force is being headed by a personality with questionable integrity and transparency…”

The report was signed by Poe and concurred with by Senators Francis Escudero, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ferdinand Marcos, Loren Legarda and Vicente Sotto III.

Sotto and Legarda said they will post some amendments in the report.

The panel also called for the amendment of the law on the PNP Internal Affairs Service, including the need to appoint a civilian as its head; the need to set-up a 24-hour dedicated police emergency hotline and study the proposed registration of mobile SIM cards.

Apart from the ombudsman, the Senate committee also urged the PNP Internal Affairs Service to conduct a parallel investigation on the matter.

The panel noted the “substantial” monthly amortization for luxury vehicles reflected in the PNP chief’s SALN does not match the combined net income of Purisima and his wife. “Only an exhaustive examination of the Chief’s other incomes, reported or not, would lend a plausible explanation on this matter,” it added.

The Office of the Ombudsman is the proper venue to allow Purisima the chance to fully clear himself of allegations, Poe said.

She stressed the public and the PNP as an institution “deserve to know the truth.”

Unexplained wealth?

The committee recommended that the Office of the Ombudsman look into the issues concerning Purisima’s unexplained wealth and his actuations on accepting “gifts” as seen in the donation for the construction of the White House, the official residence of the PNP chief in Camp Crame.

The Senate panel wants the ombudsman to determine whether Purisima violated Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code; section 3 (b) and (c) of Republic Act 3019 also known as Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; section 3 (c) and (d) and Section 7 (d) of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Purisima, the panel said, may also have violated Presidential Decree 46, which makes it punishable for public officials and employees to receive and for private persons to give gifts on any occasion.

“The rationale behind the above-cited laws is to insulate public officials from being influenced to favor gift-givers in the former’s exercise of their respective duties and/or functions,” Poe noted.

“It must be emphasized that the above laws, as well as jurisprudence, frown upon mere receipt of ‘gifts’ by a public official,” she added.

In the case of the White House, the panel noted that Purisima allowed donations from three personalities whom he knew personally.

The panel also noted the substantial amount given as supposed discount for the Toyota Land Cruiser “was way above industry practice,” and along with the P11.46-million donation for the PNP White House provide “deeper investigation by the ombudsman regarding the rules on ethical standards.”

Serve and Protect

Poe also stressed the need for the PNP chief and his personnel to serve with honor and integrity.

“It should be emphasized that the PNP is an institution of honor with uniformed personnel known for their great sense of service and dedication. But more than any institution, the PNP operates on a mandate of trust,” Poe said in the committee report.

“It is relevant only for as long as the people have confidence that it can preserve law and order,” she added.

Poe said the PNP underwent a spate of scandals recently, which casts doubt on the integrity of police personnel. “Nobody is above the law, more so the officers tasked with law enforcement,” she said.

The senator referred to the EDSA incident that involved several police officers from the Quezon City Police District-Station 1 at La Loma, the controversy surrounding the White House and Purisima’s rest house in Nueva Ecija.

In the case of Purisima’s alleged illegal wealth, the panel said the PNP chief undervalued his assets listed in his SALN.

A Toyota Land Cruiser, according to the report, is supposedly valued at P4.3 million but the PNP chief acquired it for only P1.5 million. “Director General Purisima has not explained, and while he promised to submit the necessary dossier on time, the details on amortization of the motor vehicles have remained to be unexplained and sketchy,” the report read.

“The police chief failed to explain to rationalize the true worth and assessment of his various real properties,” it added.

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