Who funded the PNP chief’s ‘White House?’
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday, June 25, defended its chief amid reports the police force spent P25 million on the so-called “White House” or his official residence inside Camp Crame, Quezon City.
In a press briefing, Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, spokesman of PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, said the figure reported in media is bloated. "It’s around, based on estimates, P12 million… in the form of donated materials from benevolent persons and organizations,” said Mayor.
Who exactly are those “benevolent persons and organizations?”
Mayor declined to elaborate. "We seek the indulgence of the public... [as a] courtesy to these persons. We’ll give you the names in due time. For the mean time, ang hinihingi lang nila, konting palugit lang,” added Mayor. (The donors are asking for a little more time.)
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said in previous interviews that the P12-million house was a donation from Purisima’s Mason friends. Purisima himself is a Mason.
Media reports quoted an anyonymous senior Mason who reportedly denounced the use of the organization's funds in constructing the "White House" because "the brotherhood is not mandated to donate a luxury house."
Earlier this month, Purisima attended an event of the “Mabuhay Shrines” club, a "fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth."
Mayor called on the public to give Purisima the “benefit of the doubt.” He added: "We assure you that the chief PNP will perform his duties and functions based on rules and regulations. It’s their right to say their opinion but we will just perform our function,” he added.
The spokespersons explained the PNP opted to construct a new building rather than renovate the older “White House” to cut costs. “Based on the study of concerned personnel, renovation is more expensive than building a new one,” said Mayor.
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption chairman Dante Jimenez, meanwhile, said the construction of the "White House" was "immoral and untimely and not a priority expense."
Why just now?
The renovation or construction of the PNP chief’s official residence has been a long time coming. According to a Philippine Star report, the construction was needed to fix the damage caused by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. The repairs only happened now because previous police chiefs did not use the house as their residence.
Sindac denied allegations the PNP was evading the issue and instead questioned why the “White House” only became a controversy now.
"It was occupied January, parang ngayon lang lumabas yang mga yan,” said Sindac. (It’s odd that it only became an issue now.)
But the construction, said Sindac, should not be an issue in the first place since it does not benefit Purisima personally. "Ito ay isang bahay na pinagawa sa loob ng kampo. Hindi naman yan bagay na pwede niyang itupi at iuwi eh. Ang maximum utility niya diyan ay almost 1 and a half years nalang in contrast to the generations of PNP chiefs who will utilize it,” said Sindac.
(It’s a house within Camp Crame. It’s not something he can take home once he retires. Purisima’s maximum utility of the home will be a year and a half.)
The “White House” is only the latest in a string of issues hounding Purisima, who also faces a plunder complaint before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan for a deal with a carrier service.
String of issues
Recently, Purisima also faced criticism over the sacking of former task Force Tugis head Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa barely a week after Capa's team apprehended wanted businessman Delfin Lee.
There are talks in Camp Crame that some groups want Purisima out as top cop. Purisima, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, was appointed in 2012. Should things go his way, he will be top cop until November 2015, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Sindac also refused to comment on a report that said the Liberal Party wants Purisima’s PMA batchmate, Chief of Directorial Staff Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo, to take over the PNP’s top spot.
"Etong nangyayari na ito, yung personal attacks, is either outright malicious to downright suspicious. We can’t blame them dahil sa dami ng reforms, maraming natatamaan,” added Sindac
(A lot of people are affected by the reforms we're introducing.) – Rappler.com