MANILA, Philippines – To eliminate crime in the Philippines within 3 to 6 months – as promised by his presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte – a cleanup of corrupt and inefficient government officials should be the first step, according to former interior secretary Rafael Alunan III.
“If we don’t restore order within the government, the government will not have the integrity nor the capacity to sow fear in the hearts of criminals,” Alunan said during the Rappler senatorial debate at the FEU Institute of Technology on Friday, April 22.
Alunan, who was the interior chief during the Ramos administration, was asked to assess the feasibility of Duterte’s anti-crime campaign promise. Alunan is running for a Senate seat under the ticket of the Davao City mayor.
Duterte has drawn flak from other candidates, who said it was “impossible” for him to stop crime nationwide within 3 to 6 months. Duterte later clarified he meant to “suppress” and not wipe out crime within that period.
But Alunan cited his experience during the Ramos administration, where they were able to weed out 68 corrupt and inefficient generals and colonels from the police force within the first 3 to 6 months, and 3,000 others in the next 4 years.
He called it a “shock treatment” to make accountable those who were doing wrong.
“The important thing is they understand that what we were doing is professional, fair, and just,” he said.
Alunan said this can also be applied to Duterte’s campaign promise, starting by taking out undesirables in government service to serve as examples to criminals.
“He’ll start with the cleanup of government, so criminals will sit up and listen and follow the guidelines of a Duterte government,” he said.
Meanwhile, retired police general Samuel Pagdilao highlighted the need to get members of the community involved in the fight against crime and drugs.
“If we leave the job of ridding streets of criminals and drugs to armed forces and law enforcement, it’s not enough,” he said.
But contrary to Alunan’s position, Pagdilao said achieving this goal within 3 to 6 months is a “tall order.”
“We need some form of miracle to ensure that we have zero crime. Napakahirap ‘yan. We need all the people to get together to help enforce this,” he said.
Alunan, however, said that the 3- to 6-month timeframe aims to put crime under control, not totally eliminate it.
Responding to Alunan’s comment, retired police chief superintendent Diosdado Valeroso said the current administration should have started cleaning up the ranks of the police and the military early on.
Alunan agreed, saying that the Aquino government “should have hit the ground running” in 2010.
But, he said, the Aquino government has not acted against those who were in positions of power. He cited the controversies involving public officials’ discretionary funds – the pork barrel corruption scandal, and the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
“They (corrupt officials) ar not killing individual people, but they’re depriving millions of the money they need,” he said. – Rappler.com
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