Finally, a PNP-wide lifestyle check?

PNP REFORM. Director General Ronald dela Rosa addresses police during a flag-raising ceremony at Camp Crame. File photo from PNP PIO

PNP REFORM. Director General Ronald dela Rosa addresses police during a flag-raising ceremony at Camp Crame.

File photo from PNP PIO

It's been a week of change and surprises for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the new administration hasn't shown any signs of stopping.

After a massive revamp, President Rodrigo Duterte's surprise name-dropping of 5 active and retired generals supposedly involved in illegal drugs, and surprise drug tests left and right, comes the promise of a lifestyle check.

Newly-installed Interior Secretary Mike Sueno, according to a press release from the department, has instructed PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa to "proceed with the lifestyle check in the entire police force, starting with the police generals."

"As public servants, we are expected to be exemplars of honesty, integrity, and professionalism. So if the policemen or any other civil servant for that matter have acquired unexplained wealth while in active service, they have a lot of explaining to do," Sueno was quoted as saying.

It's a move consistent with the new administration's promise to rid the country – including, and especially the police force – of scalawags. Duterte's 2016 campaign focused on the call to curb crime, drugs, and corruption.

But it's also a move that's been promised before.

Under the Aquino administration, then Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II promised an institution-wide lifestyle check, also starting with the PNP's top generals. This happened in the aftermath of a string of high-profile crimes involving cops themselves.

The biggest news item then was the involvement of Quezon City police in a robbery and kidnapping case that happened in broad daylight along EDSA, near Camp Crame.

The PNP's chief then, Alan Purisima, faced one allegation of corruption after another. Purisima was eventually dismissed from the service over a supposedly anomalous deal inked between a courier service and the PNP's Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO).

The promise of a lifestyle check was met with much hype and excitement – at least outside Crame. Memorandums were supposed to be produced but almost two years later... nothing.

Roxas said back then that it was difficult to launch an internal investigation when the PNP's Internal Affairs Service (IAS) was headed by a two-star general. The IAS is ideally handled by someone outside the PNP.

Funding was also an issue, since a sweep of the entire institution would require a lot of manpower from the already overstretched police force.

Will things be different this time? – Bea Cupin/