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Purisima hits smear job

Slams syndicates for blocking reforms

FACING three plunder complaints and questions about his unexplained wealth, Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima said Tuesday he has become the target of an organized smear campaign to block reforms he put in place to stop syndicates from issuing fake gun licenses and permits.

In a statement issued by his office after he appeared before the Senate committee on public order, Purisima said syndicates within the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) that were stripped of their illegal trade were going after his neck.

Question hour. Senator Grace Poe, head of the peace
and order committee, questions National Police Chief
Alan Purisima on Tuesday over the graft and plunder
charges against him. Purisima was also questioned
on the rising incidence of crime in Metro Manla.
Lino Santos
He added that before he instituted reforms, the FEO as “a corruption-riddled office” that allowed the proliferation of fake gun licenses and permits.

Without offering any details, Purisima also denied allegations of unexplained wealth, saying the 4.7-hectare property and poultry farm he owned in Nueva Ecija were acquired through honest means.

During the Senate hearing, Purisima told the panel headed by Senator Grace Poe that the Nueva Ecija property was acquired for only P150,000 in 1998 when he was already in the PNP, and that he built a 204 square-meter house on it in 2002 using his savings.

The property was valued at P3.7 million in Purisima’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), but complainants in a corruption case filed against him before the Office of the Ombudsman said the house, which includes a swimming pool, could be worth more than P50 million.

In his latest SALN, Purisima put his net worth at P6.56 million after P10.7 million in liabilities were deducted from P17.26 million in total assets.

Purisima has three more properties consisting of a house and lot in Caloocan City, a lot in San Idelfonso, Ilocos Sur, and a condominium unit in Cubao, Quezon City.

He also owns a 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser, which he valued at P1.5 million.

When Poe questioned how he was able to buy the brand new luxury vehicle—worth at least P3 million--at such a low cost, Purisima said a dealer in San Fernando, Pampanga had given him a big “discount.”

Aside from the Toyota Land Cruiser, Purisima also owns a Toyota Alphard worth P3.2 million, a Hyundai Starex and a Toyota Hi-Lux.

He told the panel that he earned a salary of P107,000 a month as PNP chief and also owned a trucking business. He could not say, however, how much the trucking business earned.

Quizzed on donations he received for the construction of his official residence in Camp Crame, Purisima said early reports that pegged the cost of the “White House” at P20 million were exaggerated, and that the total donation was P11.46 million.

Purisima said no cash outlay was involved because the donors—three private contractors—offered to build the house at no cost to the PNP, and turned it over in December 2013.

When Poe asked why the deed of donation was dated Sept. 3, 2014 or nine months after the turnover, Purisima admitted that the deed was prepared after the fact because questions were being raised about the White House.

He said the donors had originally wanted to remain anonymous, but he prevailed upon them to go public after he drew flak for the donation.

“I personally know them. They refused to come out in public. I told them it’s mandatory for them to surface to legalize the donation,” Purisima said.

But Senator Sergio Osemeña III questioned Purisima’s credibility when the PNP chief said the donors had not shown him any plans for the building.

“Your reasoning has no credibility. What if a dog house will be built, will you receive it?” he asked.

Purisma said the donation was not merely for his benefit, but for other PNP chiefs that would follow him after his retirement in November 2015.

But Poe took the PNP to task for failing to follow the proper procedures in processing donations, and said this made the transaction questionable and suspect.

She also pointed out that Purisima’s donors were not acting out of the goodness of their heart, and knew that there would be a quid pro quo down the road.

The donations, in fact, can be interpreted as indirect bribery under the law, the PNP chief was told.

Poe also shot down Purisima’s claim that the increase in the volume of crimes was due to efficient reporting.

Purisima admitted that during the first half of this year, the number of crimes rose to 603,085, which was almost at the same level for the 631,406 crimes reported for the entire 2012.

Asked how he would rate his performance on a scale of 1 to 10, Purisima gave himself an almost perfect score.

“Your honor, I rate myself about 9,” said Purisima.

Poe, however, gave him a grade of only 4, and highlighted the insconsistencies in his testimony in a press conference after the hearing.

The Palace continued to defend the embattled PNP chief, saying “mere allegations” should not ruin the integrity of officials.

“Under our legal system, we have processes to follow. It will not be logical to conclude that an official’s integrity is already questionable based on mere allegations,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma.

Purisima faces three separate cases before the Office of the Ombudsman on charges of plunder, graft and indirect bribery.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier said he wanted to study the charges against Purisima before taking any action.

On Monday, he summoned Purisima to seek an explanation on the corruption issues raised against him.

“My understanding is that the PNP chief has talked with the President. But I did not have the opportunity to get details on their meeting,” Coloma added. – With Joyce Pangco Pañares

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