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Abalos: Cops to be purged will not be named publicly

The names of police officials whose courtesy resignations would be accepted won’t be made public, Department of the Interior Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said on Friday.

“There is no need. This is a radical move. Like I said before, extraordinary times call for radical and bold actions. This is out of the box. By the same token, let’s say if their resignation is accepted, let them retire silently,” Abalos told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Abalos, however, said the monitoring and investigation efforts will continue so that authorities can file appropriate charges against those who would be found involved in illegal drugs.

He also said the National Police Commission (Napolcom) will also review the names of police officers whose resignations will be accepted.

“That’s important to me. They should be thoroughly screened. I’d rather have one man who is guilty get off the hook than one innocent person get dismissed,” he said.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a retired police general, is part of the five-member committee that will assess the courtesy resignations and make a recommendation to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Abalos said he would soon announce the names of the other members of the body.

“I do not want this to be a fishing expedition. We just want to make sure that when we announce [something], it will really be accepted by the public,’’ Abalos added.

The DILG chief also thanked the police officials for heeding his appeal.

“I am thankful for the trust that they gave and we will make sure, of course, that our five-man committee (are composed of) persons of integrity,” Abalos said.

As of Friday, about 95 percent of the 954 PNP generals and full colonels have submitted their courtesy resignations.

PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo, said those who submitted their resignation included 774 colonels and 130 generals so far.

The PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management expects to receive the resignation of the remaining 49 senior officers within the week, she said.

She added that the total number of third-level officials went down from 956 to 953 following the retirement of three officials.

Fajardo said the PNP respects Abalos’ decision not to publicize the names of police officials whose courtesy resignations will be accepted.

The PNP spokesperson said the findings of the committee will be forwarded to the Napolcom, and the officers who will be proven to have links to illegal drug activities will be charged with corresponding criminal cases.

Fajardo noted that the officers can still appeal the findings of the committee.

“If there is a need to release the names in the interest of transparency, then we need to wait for the process to be completed. We don’t want to jump to conclusions and release them in haste. They might exercise their rights to question or in fact exhaust their legal remedies to somehow clear their names,” she said.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said at least 10 police officials were included in the list of those allegedly involved in illegal drugs but there is no information yet if they have already submitted their courtesy resignation.

Earlier, some 43 Metro Manila cops were summoned by National Capital Region Police Office chief Maj. Gen. Jonnel Estomo over their inclusion in a watchlist of police personnel with possible links to illegal drugs.

In an exclusive report, ABS-CBN showed a video clip of the meeting with Estomo at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig where the cops also underwent a surprise drug test.

“This is painful. I never imagined this even in my wildest dreams,” one policeman said.

Another said he already went through an adjudication process in 2018 and was surprised that his name was still on the watch list.

Yet another said he underwent a lie detector test but was not appraised of the decision on his case.

“We are just simple workers who went against some big fish,” another cop lamented.

Estomo said the inclusion of the cops in the watchlist of the Philippine National Police does not automatically make them guilty of being involved in illegal drugs.

“There is perhaps doubt [on your record] so please help yourselves and undergo the adjudication process,” he said.

“I cannot say they are involved. That has to be proven. Some of them were just doing their job, and sometimes when you do your job, you step on people’s toes and they get mad.”

“These have to be resolved by the adjudication board. If they are guilty, file a case. If they are not guilty, then clear them. It is that simple,” Estomo added.

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