Philippine National Police

Ex-PNP chief Azurin blames Sermonia after he was held by Canadian immigration

Jairo Bolledo

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Ex-PNP chief Azurin blames Sermonia after he was held by Canadian immigration

EX-CHIEF. In this file photo, then-PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., holds a press conference in Camp Crame on April 17, 2023, to deny any involvement and cover-up of PNP officials allegedly linked to a drug bust.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

In response, PNP deputy chief for administration Rhodel Sermonia says: 'I'd rather not dignify the accusations with a reply that may be construed negatively'

A former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief blamed his former colleague after he was held by Canadian immigration authorities.

Former PNP chief and retired general Rodolfo Azurin Jr. was asked about his unfortunate experience with Canadian immigration during a hearing at the House of Representatives for the 2024 budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday, September 27.

House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan asked the DFA about Azurin, who was said to have been intercepted by Canadian authorities in the North American country. Nueva Ecija 2nd District Representative Joseph Violago, who sponsored the budget of the foreign affairs agency, replied on behalf of the department:

“It happened only a few days ago. General Azurin voluntarily went to Canada and bigla po siyang bumalik ng bansa (and he immediately returned to the country). And the Canadian government is trying to look into what happened. The Canadian embassy will go back to our Philippine embassy to relay what really happened in that incident,” Violago said.

Parang nagkaroon po ng misunderstanding, misinterpretation doon sa nangyari and the Canadian embassy expressed their regrets with the miscommunication (It seemed there was a misunderstanding, misinterpretation of what happened, and the Canadian embassy expressed their regrets with the miscommunication),” the lawmaker said, adding that Azurin voluntarily returned to the country after the incident.

In a statement on Tuesday, Azurin broke his silence and claimed that Police Lieutenant General Rhodel Sermonia, the PNP’s deputy chief for administration or the police’s no. 2 man, was “spreading lies about his alleged deportation.”

“Maybe he (Sermonia) knows something that everyone in our country does not know. Maybe, it was him who tipped the Canadian immigration by concocting half truths and many lies and had been hoping that I will be deported. He had been sending messages about my deportation,” Azurin said.

Azurin said all “indicators” revealed that Sermonia “has something to do with what happened.” He added that he will issue another statement and will face the media “in due time.”

Sermonia, in his response on Wednesday afternoon, denied the allegations, saying that Azurin “may have been fed false stories.” Sermonia also noted that Azurin is his Philippine Military Academy (PMA) classmate and the husband of his sister-in-law.

“I’d rather not dignify the accusations with a reply that may be construed negatively. My advice is to directly ask the Canadian embassy what the reason for the questioning which made retired PNP chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. decide to just return to the country as he stated, and not deported. Canada has its own rules and regulations on border control. So, it is best to secure the report from them,” Sermonia said.

Azurin is President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first PNP chief, appointed in August 2022. Right after his appointment, Azurin ordered a major revamp in the police ranks, affecting even Sermonia, who was also the PNP’s no. 2 man at the time.

Sermonia, Azurin’s classmate from the PMA Makatao Class of 1989, was then reassigned to head the Area Police Command in the Visayas. But only weeks later, Sermonia reclaimed his post in October 2022.

What really happened

During the Wednesday hearing, Libanan also asked for the report about the incident involving Azurin. However, Violago said the report cannot be shared yet, citing privacy issues. The DFA budget sponsor added that the Canadian government has yet to issue a statement regarding the matter.

The DFA, meanwhile, also mentioned in its statement the need for privacy in Azurin’s case.

“The Department is in touch with Canadian authorities and hopes to get a better understanding of the incident soon. While our foreign service posts are ready to assist Filipino travelers, including former government officials, these cases have privacy issues surrounding them,” the foreign affairs department said. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.