Roxas: Civilian will head PNP lifestyle check

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the “abundance” of mudslinging in the police force, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said the long-awaited lifestyle check for the top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) needs to be headed by a civilian.

In a chance interview on Wednesday, April 29, Roxas said they are still “looking for” a permanent civilian to lead the much-hyped PNP lifestyle check.

Para hindi pulis ang magsu-supervise sa pulis (So it’s not the police who supervises the police),” said Roxas.

Plans for a lifestyle check on the 150,000-strong police force were announced in September 2014, following a string of high-profile crimes involving cops themselves.

Roxas previously said the National Police Commission (Napolcom), which he chairs, would be drafting the rules and procedures. The Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Ombudsman were set to help the Napolcom in drafting the rules.

But more than 6 months later, the lifestyle check, which would have started with the PNP’s top officials, has yet to begin.

Around the same time the lifestyle check was announced, now-resigned PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima was facing corruption allegations left and right. Purisima was suspended by the Ombudsman in December 2014 pending the investigation of the first graft case filed against him.

The PNP has several existing mechanisms to check on its wayward members, among them, the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS). But the IAS is currently headed by Director Alexander Roldan, a two-star police general.

Roxas said he is working with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to look for a civilian to eventually head the IAS.

The next PNP chief

The announced lifestyle check would come in handy again, this time as President Benigno Aquino III searches for a new PNP chief. 

Speaking to reporters in Malaysia, Aquino on Tuesday, April 29, said he needed more time, especially given the “abundance” of mud-slinging within the police force.

Gusto mong malaman ito ba, 'di ba, paninira lang? Ito ba may base? Ito ba totoo? Dahil gusto ko namang makasigurado na 'yung ilalagay sa p'westong napakasensitibo, lalo na itong parating nating eleksyon, ay talagang maaasahan ng taumbayan,” Aquino said.

(Of course you want to make sure if it’s just an accusation or if it’s based on something solid. Is this true? I want to make sure that whoever I put in this very sensitive position – especially given the coming elections – can be trusted by the public.)

There are at least 5 police generals considered to be front runners in the search for the next PNP chief: Deputy Chief for Operations Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Director Benjamin Magalong, Directorate for Plans chief Director Ricardo Marquez, Logistics Directorate chief Director Juanito Vaño Jr, and former CALABARZON director Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, who also happens to be close to the Aquino family.

Petrasanta, like Purisima, has close personal ties to the President. A former member of the Presidential Security Group, Petrasanta was once tasked to protect the Aquino family.

Various sources from within the PNP told Rappler Petrasanta was Aquino’s top pick.

But the police general has at least 2 cases pending before the Ombudsman: one for an allegedly anomalous deal in the PNP’s Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO), the same case Purisima was suspended over; and another for his alleged involvement in the sale of 1,000 AK-47s to communist rebels.

Petrasanta’s suspension lapses in June 2015, or just before PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina retires. –