Positions of influence and power

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - October 22, 2015 - 10:00am

Two groups of police officers from the PNP are being charged for two anomalous deals. The Ombudsman has recommended the filing of information with the Sandiganbayan against twelve top officials of the PNP in connection with an anomalous issuance of firearm licenses for high-powered AK-47 assault rifles. Records show that 1004 AK-47 rifles were released to four security agencies even if the necessary documents were not complete. I mean, does a security guard need an AK-47 to guard a mall, a private bank, an office building or even a residence? The purchase of the weapons should have been suspect from the start. Perhaps if they were guarding the Palace or the Central Bank, I would have understood the need. My understanding is that only the police and the military are allowed to buy high-powered weapons. Rifles also were issued to a mining company by way of the same anomalous process. What makes this case even worse, some of those very rifles ended up in the hands of the New People's Army, the country's enemy for over four decades. How this happened is highly suspect, even postulating that the real buyers of the weapons were the rebels themselves.

Eighteen other PNP officials were ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman in connection with another anomalous purchase, this time of motorized boats in 2010. The motorboats were claimed to be in good condition, but after inspection were found to be defective, even in disrepair. There was also no public bidding done, and a company was allegedly favored to bag the contract even it was not financially capable of handling the transaction. You will recall the purchase of supposedly brand new Robinson helicopters, also for the PNP, that ended up as second-hand units. Several police officers were also charged. This seems to be the way things are done at the PNP.

Honestly, I am saddened by news like this. There are those within the ranks of the PNP that genuinely strive to clean up its image, and regain the trust of the public. But with cases such as this, it only sets them back. Who else will the people turn to for help and protection from criminals if not the PNP? But when high-ranking officials are involved in scams or anomalies, the task of cleaning up its image becomes exponentially harder.

Perhaps it is time for a separate agency that has nothing to do with the PNP to handle its procurement needs. Top officials of the PNP are in positions of influence and power, whether we like it or not. The temptation to make "something on the side" may just be too much for some. Having another agency handle the procurement would make the police concentrate on law enforcement, and not become businessmen. Perhaps a private company that coordinates with the government might work?

The licensing of firearms is also something the PNP has to look deeper into. I know that it is a lot harder to get a firearm license nowadays, much to the ire of gun owners. But there are still those who are able to slip through the cracks in the system, because of insiders that facilitate the licenses. More investigation must also be done when exotic or high-powered rifles like AK-47s and M-4s are being processed for licensing. Does home or personal defense warrant this kind of weapons? Case in point, where many AK-47s ended up in rebel hands, and are now being used against the country and all its citizens. Such an act is actually treason. In some counties, the penalty for treason is death. I guess there are no worries for the treasonous here. 



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