PNP chief orders lifestyle check on police officers

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
PNP chief orders lifestyle check on police officers
PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan directed the Internal Affairs Service and the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (IMEG) to conduct the investigation to rid PNP ranks of scalawags.
STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan yesterday ordered a lifestyle check on police officers allegedly involved in graft and corruption.

Cascolan directed the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (IMEG) to conduct the investigation to rid PNP ranks of scalawags.

“We will be coming up with lifestyle checks of our PNP,” he told reporters during the ceremonial distribution of donated bicycles and food packs in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Cascolan issued the directive after the Department of Justice (DOJ) included the PNP in the list of agencies that will be investigated by its mega task force for corruption, particularly on the police force’s procurement activities.

He did not give a specific number of police officers who will be covered by the probe.

At least 15,768 police officers have been sanctioned since the start of the Duterte administration for various administrative offenses such as involvement in illegal drugs, grave misconduct, malversation, graft and corruption and serious neglect of duty.

Some 4,591 were dismissed from the service for serious infractions, including 549 who were found guilty of drug-related offenses, while 7,888 were suspended and 846 others were demoted.

Cascolan said they will focus on police officers who reportedly have lavish lifestyles beyond their salaries.

He also urged at least 4,194 new police officers who took their oath yesterday not to dip their hands in corruption and instead become role models of the PNP.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Samuel Martires sees no overlap with the functions and jurisdiction of his office and the Department of Justice’s newly created mega task force against corruption.

In a statement issued yesterday, Martires said the investigations to be conducted by the mega task force would instead aid the ombudsman in the “prompt handling and speedy disposition of cases.”

“The directive of President Duterte to DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra to investigate allegations of corruption in the government is most welcome. Secretary Guevarra is an intelligent and decent public servant who is well-respected by his peers and colleagues,” Martires said.

Guevarra had earlier said that the mega task force’s investigation will focus on national agencies under the executive department as well as on offices perceived as prone to corruption such as the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Land Registration Authority.

Martires said the DOJ has been a “long-standing partner” of the ombudsman in its drive against corruption as shown by the two agencies’ history of working together in some of the country’s big corruption cases.

“It will be recalled that the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) played a pivotal role in the investigation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam that resulted in the ombudsman’s swift action in resolving these cases,” Martires said.

He also cited the DOJ’s recent filing of complaints against officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) in support of the ombudsman’s ongoing independent probe on the state health insurance firm.

He said this resulted in his office’s swift issuance of preventive suspension order against top officials of PhilHealth in connection with the alleged anomalous release of the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM) funds to questionable healthcare institutions.

Martires said the ombudsman and the DOJ are also members of the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC), a multi-agency partnership established in 1999 to formulate and develop concerted techniques and strategies in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of graft cases.

The ombudsman issued the statement amid criticisms by some sectors that the creation of the task force was unnecessary as there are already existing bodies such as the ombudsman and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) that investigate corruption in the government.

Martires, however, said he sees no problem with the ombudsman, DOJ and other bodies conducting their separate investigations.

The ombudsman is the lead agency mandated to investigate corruption complaints against public officials and, if there is sufficient evidence gathered during investigation, prosecute the public officials before the Sandiganbayan and other courts.

Under Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, the ombudsman has the power to launch motu proprio an investigation against any official or employee of the government suspected of committing illegal acts, even without any formal complaint filed.  – Elizabeth Marcelo

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