Philippine National Police

‘Independent’ 5-man committee gets first pass at PNP courtesy resignations

Bea Cupin
‘Independent’ 5-man committee gets first pass at PNP courtesy resignations

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos issues a statement at Camp Crame that the PNP is continuing its investigation into the Percival "Percy Lapid" Mabasa killing, on October 20, 2022. An autopsy to the cause of death of the alledged middleman in the killing is still ongoing. Jire Carreon/Rappler

The panel is composed of former police, defense officials and an ex-associate justice of the Court of Appeals

MANILA, Philippines – In order to hasten a typically “long process” Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said a newly-created “advisory committee” will be tasked to review the courtesy registrations submitted by nearly all of the Philippine National Police (PNP) senior officers. 

The 5-man committee is headed by the incumbent chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and composed of men who either once served in the police force or were in the defense sector. They will be reviewing all courtesy resignations before picking out which ones to accept. 

Abalos announced the composition of the committee – or at least most of it – in a briefing before Palace media on Wednesday, February 1.

Members included former PNP second in command and current Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin, former defense chief and defeated 2022 senatorial candidate Gilbert Teodoro, and current Office of the Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Undersecretary for Police Affairs Isagani Nerez. 

A week after Abalos’ announcement, the DILG said retired justice Melchor Quirino Sadang was the fifth member of the review body. Sadang was a former associate justice of the Court of Appeals and served as a former vice executive judge and presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court. 

All five members, including the one whom Abalos did not name, are “known for their unquestionable integrity, credibility, and untainted reputation,” the interior chief said.  

Same as Napolcom, IAS? 

Abalos clarified thought that it will not be the committee which will implement the resignation process. Instead, the 5-man committee will forward to the National Police Commission (Napolcom) the list of officers whose resignations they recommend to be accepted. It is Napolcom which is tasked to administer and control the PNP in the first place. 

“That’s a long process. You’ve got to file a case, you’re up against people,  so much money, so much power… Baka bago tayo matapos, hindi na ako nakaupo dito (I might no longer be in this position before the process even ends). But the problem is there, you’ve seen it, it’s growing,” said Abalos in a chance interview. 

Aside from the Napolcom, there’s another mechanism in place that is meant to hold erring officers into account: the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS), which is headed by a lawyer not from the police force.  

Kaya merong advisory group [para] hindi nila sabihin na parang may bias…at least independent ito mag-scre-screen (The advisory group is there so they cannot say that there was bias in the process.) 

But Abalos said the process needs to be hastened. “The longer they are there, the more damage they are going to do to our country,” he added, referring to the allegedly erring cops. 

Abalos, in early January, called on police generals and colonels to hand in their courtesy resignations in a supposed effort to “cleanse” the police force of officials with links to illegal drugs. 

Of the PNP’s 955 generals and colonels, Abalos said only 12 did not submit their courtesy resignations – five of them retired officials and 6, those who are about to retire. Only one active officer refused to hand over a courtesy resignation, citing his personal prerogative, said Azurin. 

Abalos also declined to divulge the profile of the senior police official who held out.

Even as Abalos issued that “challenge” to police generals and colonels, he did not actually require them to resign. So that official who refused to hand in his courtesy resignation cannot and will not be sanctioned, said Abalos. 

The committee is eyeing a three-month window to finish its screening process. After that? Even more reviews, said Abalos. “Just look at the gaps. Kasi nga (Like I said), we are into cleansing,” he added. 

The review includes “reviewing the organization itself,” including its recruitment channels and the Philippine National Police Academy, which produces most of the officers in the PNP, as well as the jail and fire bureaus. –  

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.