#AnimatED: Leadership breakdown in PNP
The murder of South Korean business executive Jee Ick Joo in October last year right in the seat of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is, so far, the most brazen atrocity committed by the police under the Duterte administration.
It is this death, not the killing of over 7,000 Filipinos in the government's 6-month war on drugs, that trigerred a key presidential decision Sunday night, January 29: the abolition of all PNP anti-illegal drug units and a stop to anti-illegal drug operations in the police force.
Essentially, President Rodrigo Duterte, who has tapped the PNP as the lead agency in his war on drugs, belatedly realized that the police force – a corrupt, abusive one, he said – was not up to the task.
Jee Ick Joo was kidnapped by policemen – in the guise of conducting a legitimate operation in the name of the war on drugs – and strangled to death in Camp Crame. The police also demanded P5-million ransom from the wife of the victim.
Two versions of the murder are competing for the public’s attention, both involving policemen who used to be assigned to the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group: SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel and his superior, Superintendent Rafael Dumlao.
In a late-night press conference on Sunday, before any conclusive findings from any agency, the President tagged Dumlao as the mastermind and ordered the dismantling of the PNP's Anti-Illegal Drugs Group.
But he absolved the man who should have disciplined these cops in the first place: PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa. What good will it do to let go of the PNP chief, he asked. "If there are still scalawags and criminals inside Crame, they will continue with or without Bato."
Whoever committed the crime, the inescapable fact is that the men of the PNP are at the center of this wrongdoing. Dela Rosa himself admitted, "Crime is happening within our ranks."
This state of affairs is unacceptable – and Dela Rosa's order to stop the PNP's anti-illegal drug activities is not sufficient to address past wrongdoing.
Lest we forget, two things have led to the breakdown in the PNP – on top of its inherent organizational weaknesses:
- President Duterte has unleashed a culture of impunity in his centerpiece war-on-drugs program.
- De la Rosa’s leadership has inordinately focused on his visibility and self-promotion rather than keeping a tight rein on the police force.
The case of Ick Joo is not the first. The killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa in his detention cell November last year opened the floodgates as the President himself protected the cops involved in the rubout.
For his part, De la Rosa set his sights on making a name for himself, an easy task considering his voluble personality that endears him to the public. This, accompanied by his life-size cutout photographs standing in various public places announcing police assistance as well as mascots and masks.
Essentially, he seemed to equate his leadership with his personality rather than with the institution badly in need of reforms. The most telling indication was when he cried at a Senate hearing on the killing of Espinosa saying he no longer knew whom to trust.
In the Korean’s murder, De la Rosa wasn’t on top of the situation, either. He ordered a manhunt for Sta. Isabel who, all the while, was in Camp Crame.
All this has pushed our country down in an international ranking on the rule of law, as cited by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. The Philippines descended to 70 from 51 for 2016.
The brittle crust of duty and discipline in the PNP has now broken, the leadership collapsing under a wave of impunity that has engulfed the police force.
And the public deserves more than a pledge of "cleansing" in its ranks. – Rappler.com