MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III came to the defense of Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima, who is facing graft and plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Aquino said he has known Purisima for a long time and vouches for his character.
“Hindi po natin kilala ang taong ito bilang maluho o matakaw (We do not know this person to be luxurious or greedy),” he said on Tuesday, September 23 (Wednesday Manila time).
Malacañang however, was not as quick to come to Purisima’s defense, although it did say it will wait to hear the side of the police chief.
“Let’s just wait until President Aquino returns because his focus is on his engagements abroad. I’m not sure if he is fully aware of all the details,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Wednesday.
“Let’s give General Purisima a chance to defend himself…every person enjoys a presumption of innocence.”
Purisima faces graft, plunder and indirect bribery complaints over an alleged undervalued property and the renovation of a multi-million-peso residence at the general police headquarters in Camp Crame.
Called the “White House,” the official residence of the PNP chief was renovated at a cost of P12 million (about $270,000). PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac previously said it was funded with the help of Purisima’s Mason friends.
Another Purisima property in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija has been said to be undervalued. The Coalition of Filipino Consumers, which filed the complaint against Purisima on September 22, alleged he was not entirely truthful in declaring his Nueva Ecija residence to be worth only P3.75 million (about $70,000). The group claimed the house and lot, owned by Purisima and his wife, cost around P30 million to P50 million, using present values.
The President has close ties to Purisima, who was appointed top cop by Aquino in 2012. Aquino has been accused of protecting Purisima who also served as aide of the late president Corazon Aquino, mother of the President. As a member of the Presidential Security Group then, Purisima was assigned specifically to guard the young Aquino, who would later become president too.
There have been recent calls for his resignation in the wake of high-profile crimes, but the President defended Purisima’s track record as PNP chief.
Lacierda also reacted to recommendations that Purisima take an administrative leave as the investigation on him is ongoing, saying that is a personal decision Purisima will have to make.
He gave assurances the close ties between Purisima and the President will not influence the probe. – Rappler.com