Aquino slams Delfin Lee captor for ‘disservice’ to PNP

Bea Cupin

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Speaking before policemen, the President takes potshots at the police officer who arrested businessman Delfin Lee

PRESIDENTIAL IRE. Senior Supt Conrad Capa earns the ire of the President. File photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Speaking candidly and loosely before members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), President Benigno Aquino III did not hold back in criticizing “a person who refused to take a new assignment.”

It was a reference to Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa, former head of the task force that apprehended Delfin Lee, one of the PNP’s most wanted.

Matanong ko lang ho kayo: Puwede ba tayong mamili ng assignment? Sama ko na sarili ko: Puwede ba akong mamili ng problema? Last year, kung sana mayroon ‘yong suggestion box, ‘Kung puwede ho, tama na ‘yong Bohol Earthquake, baka ho puwede tama na ‘yong Zamboanga Crisis,’ sinamahan pa tayo ng Yolanda, may Santi pa sa pagitan, may sumunod – pang-apat na yata tayong bagyo this year. Wala naman akong choice. Kailangan kong tugunan ang trabaho,” said Aquino on Tuesday, April 1, during his speech at the PNP’s Araw ng Parangal sa Kapulisan.

(I wonder: Is it right for us to choose our assignments? I’ll include myself: Can I choose which problem to face? If only there was a suggestion box last where I could say: Can we have enough of the Bohol Earthquake, Zamboanga Crisis, Yolanda, Santi. We’ve had 4 storms this year. But I don’t have a choice, I need to do my job.) 

Barely a week after apprehending Lee, Capa was relieved and reassigned to Cebu. The move was a “promotion,” PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima told reporters during a press conference. But Capa said it wasn’t, and accused the PNP’s top brass of misleading the public and lying to the Palace. (READ: PNP denies ‘insubordination’ probe vs Capa)

Aquino said Capa did a “disservice” to the PNP with his actions. “At sabihin na natin nagpakita siya ng gilas, which should be rewarded and acknowledged. But at the same time, pumasok sa kaisipan ko naman ito: Okay ‘to ah – goes out to media, says this and that, keeps quiet for a while, then, goes back to the media…And I really think does the service a disservice. Pinahamak niya ‘yong institusyon na pagkatagal-tagal ng buhay niya ay pinaglingkuran niya,” said Aquino. (READ: PNP lied to Palace, says sacked Delfin Lee captor)

(Let’s say he showed excellence which should be rewarded and acknowledged. But I can’t help but think: he goes out to the media, says this and that, keeps quiet for a while, then, goes back to the media. And I really think does the service a disservice. He’s ruining the institution that he’s serving.)

The President compared Capa to the PNP personnel who were receiving awards. Among them, Inspector Marjorie Lubo Manuta, one of the 20 Tacloban police personnel who reported for work in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Dito sa napakaingay na opisyal na ito, sabihin na nating magaling siya – siyempre ang tanong doon, “Maaasahan ba?” At tila ang sagot na pangkaraniwan doon eh, ‘Maaasahan natin siya kung natutuwa siya.’ Eh kung hindi siya natutuwa, hindi na natin maaasahan? Iyon ba ang professional?” said Aquino. (Now this noisy official, let’s say he’s good but the question is: Is he reliable? The usual answer would be: He’s reliable when he’s happy. But when he isn’t, is he unreliable? Is that professional?) 

Capa wasn’t among those awarded during the PNP’s Araw ng Parangal sa Kapulisan. Three members of Task Force Tugis, however, were given PNP Heroism Medals. 

Capa’s move to Cebu is only a lateral transfer. As the Regional Office’s Deputy Director for Operations, he is one step away from earning a star rank. In earlier interviews, Capa admitted he wasn’t expecting or looking forward to a promotion anymore.

The PNP said in another press conference that Capa was not yet ripe for promotion, despite his achievements.

Capa said he was open to making amends with Purisima, admitting that the rift between him and Purisima was “upsetting the PNP too much.” –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.