MANILA, Philippines – He would be jailed in a camp he once lorded over, by men he once commanded.
The irony isn’t lost on former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Avelino “Sonny” Razon Jr, but he said he will take this in stride since he believes “I’d be proven innocent in the end.”
Razon surrendered to the Sandiganbayan Wednesday afternoon, August 28, hours after the court ordered him and 32 others arrested for malversation charges. The case is non-bailable.
As of 5 pm Wednesday, Razon was still in the Sandiganbayan waiting for formal orders to be transferred to the detention facility of the PNP in Camp Crame.
“I was told I will be jailed in Crame,” he told Rappler in a phone interview. “That’s okay, that’s part of it. Hopefully I would be vindicated.”
It’s a camp he once ruled over, as director general of the PNP from Oct.1, 2007 to September 2008.
Razon said that as soon as he heard that a warrant was issued against him, he decided to immediately go to the Sandiganbayan. “I believe in our justice system that’s why I wasted no time in going to the court,” Razon said. “We are willing to face the charges against us and hopefully we can be proven innocent.”
Razon’s detention is a sad footnote to a career that saw him fight not only criminals, but his fellow men in uniform too who plotted coup attempts against the Cory Aquino government.
The only coup — if it can be called that — that Razon ever joined was the 1986 EDSA revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship. He was the known “conduit” of then coup leader Gregorio Honasan (now senator) in the defunct Philippine Constabulary, a major service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at the time. RAM formed the core of anti-Marcos officers in the military.
As a member of the elite Special Action Forces (SAF) of the Constabulary, Razon joined his superior at the time, then Constabulary chief Fidel V. Ramos, in withdrawing support from the Marcos government.
After Cory Aquino became president, Ramos, who was then chief of staff, stood by her and fought all subsequent attempts by Honasan and RAM to topple her. Ramos eventually named Razon commander of the SAF, and Mrs Aquino fondly called him “Sonny.”
When Ramos became president, Razon joined him in Malacañang as deputy commander of the Presidential Security Group.
Under the Ramos government, the Philippine National Police was created, resulting in the abolition of the Constabulary. This gave Constabulary officers a choice to either join the PNP as civilian policemen or stay with the military by joining either the Army, Air Force, or Navy.
Razon chose to join the PNP, where he rose from the ranks as Manila police chief to director of the PNP National Capital Region Office.
In 2007, then President Arroyo appointed him PNP chief.
At the time, Razon was already part of the power bloc in the police-military establishment. His classmate at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), Hermogenes Esperon Jr, also became Armed Forces chief of staff. They graduated from the PMA in 1974.
Both generals were among the favorites of Mrs Arroyo.
In December 2012, four years after Razon retired, the Ombudsman indicted him and 32 others for graft and malversation for allegedly releasing additional budget for the repair of the SAF’s light armored vehicles (LAV).
In a 68-page Joint Order that the Ombudsman filed with the Sandiganbayan last July 11, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales dismissed the motions for reconsideration and reinvestigation filed by Razon and the other respondents.
The Ombudsman established that Razon, upon assuming the top PNP post, requested for a budget on Aug 14, 2007 to supplement what had already been requested by his predecessor, then PNP Chief Director General Oscar Calderon.
Calderon had requested P275.37 million for 10 units of V-150 LAVs for the PNP Special Action Force. When Razon took over, he requested additional budget to repair and refurbish 18 more LAVs. This caused the total amount to balloon to more than P400 million.
Among Razon’s co-accused were two former comptrollers of the PNP.
The complaint alleged irregularity in the “bidding process, awarding of contracts and utilization of funds intended for the repair/refurbishment of 28 V-150s of the PNP.”
For this, Razon, former PNP boss, will be spending the rest of his days at Camp Crame’s detention facility. He hopes, however, that the court will grant his motion for bail; the justices have set a September 6 hearing for this.
Asked what he’s been doing now that he’s retired, Razon said that he, in fact, joined the #MillionPeopleMarch at the Luneta last Monday, August 26. “I was there to be one with the people’s call against corruption,” he said.
He will probably have to prove that in court, too. – Glenda M. Gloria/Rappler.com