MANILA, Philippines – Over a thousand cops were transferred by the central Philippine National Police (PNP) because they were related by blood, or had affinities to candidates in the May elections.
“As non-partisan and deputized law enforcement agency of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), we strongly and firmly remain faithful to our apolitical mandate to ensure and protect the will of the electorate towards honest, orderly and peaceful elections,” PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said in a statement on March 6 as he gave the reshuffle order.
It turns out, the PNP allowed one big exception.
No less than the chief of the powerful Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Major General Amador Corpus, has his wife running for a seat in Congress – a national post.
Corpus’ wife, Victoria Seares Corpus, is running for the congressional seat of the lone district of Abra, under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan-Democratic Party of the Philippines (PDDS-DPP).
Seares Corpus is a member of the Seares-Luna political clan. She is the aunt of gubernatorial bet and current mayor of Dolores town Robert Victor Seares Jr.
Corpus keeping his position during the elections season has raised the eyebrows of Camp Crame generals, according to a source. But many of them preferred to stay silent, because of Corpus’ seniority and powerful position. (READ: Duterte to military, police: 'Don't indulge in partisan politics')
Aside from heading the CIDG, Corpus also belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986, the current ruling class of the PNP. He is a classmate of the incumbent chief, General Oscar Albayalde, and former police-chief-turned-senatorial-bet Ronald dela Rosa.
Corpus cries ‘no prohibition’
Photo from Seares Corpus' Facebook Page
In a phone interview with Rappler on Monday, April 29, Corpus defended his time at the CIDG during the election season. He said he saw nothing wrong with his wife running despite his CIDG post, and conversely, him staying in his position despite his wife’s candidacy.
“Wala namang Comelec prohibition (There is no Comelec prohibition),” Corpus said. (LIST: 2019 election-related bans)
According to Corpus, he had met with police chief Albayalde on the matter, and the top cop supposedly decided on Corpus staying instead of taking a “leave of absence” because Corpus’ unit apparently did not have the “potential to influence the elections.”
Corpus also said his situation was different from local cops because his unit had no “direct parameter” on Abra. He added that there are only around “14 to 15” personnel” in the CIDG Abra office, further downplaying the unit’s potential to be politicized in the elections.
The CIDG, however, has a provincial Abra office which can operate anywhere in the province, and sometimes even cross borders when needed. The CIDG is also a unit with a national scope, tasked to focus on high-profile crimes and criminals.
All these resources, Corpus insisted, were not used in any way to back the campaign of his wife.
“Professional ang CIDG, and it will not be used for any partisan politics. Magtatrabaho nang magtatrabaho para panatilihing safe ang vote ng mga tao (We will work and work to keep the people’s vote safe),” Corpus said. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.