About 72 senior officials of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) tested negative in surprise drug tests on Sunday amid a call to cleanse the police force of officers involved in the illegal drug trade.
They are part of about 429 senior officers ranked colonel to general who were asked by Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, on the direction of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to tender courtesy resignations in a bid to cleanse the force of “ninja cops” or protectors of the narcotics business.
The latest policemen to obey the command were officers in Eastern Visayas, as all officers – colonel, provincial directors, and city directors – resigned as a courtesy “to assure that Region 8 has an honest, dutiful police force,” Police Regional Director Brig. Gen. Rommel Marbil said in a television interview.
Marbil did not specify how many senior officers under him also filed courtesy resignations.
In a statement, the NCRPO said the urine samples taken on Sunday from the third-level officers, including its top cop Police Maj. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, all came back negative in the surprise test. This was after 69 of them filed their courtesy resignations last Friday as requested by Abalos.
Police officers in Central Visayas also heeded the call of Abalos, who as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government supervises the 227,000-strong national police force, on the same day as their Metro Manila counterparts.
Policemen from other regions have yet to turn in their courtesy resignations, as only about one-fourth of 429 PNP senior officers have done so as of Sunday.
The latest count shows the PNP organization has 293 colonels, 108 brigadier generals, 19 major generals, eight lieutenant generals, and one full general, PNP Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr.
Meanwhile, the umbrella group of all local government leagues threw its support behind the campaign of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. to rid the PNP of high-ranking officials involved in the illegal drug trade.
In expressing its support, the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) said drug abuse is a complex problem that has evolved into a chronic health disorder that is taking a heavy toll on families and communities.
ULAP president Quirino Province Gov. Dax Cua praised Abalos for calling on all police generals and colonels to submit their courtesy resignations as the first part of a shakeup at the PNP.
“It takes courage and humility to ask what he asked of our police, knowing that he might gain enemies in the process,” Cua said in a mix of English and Filipino. “This is an issue that transcends personal and career reasons. Our country is asking us to make sacrifices to solve the drug menace that is preying on our countrymen.”
Cua also commended PNP chief Azurin for leading the initiative to cleanse the ranks of rogue cops.
Earlier, the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s policy-making body composed of the 17 mayors of the National Capital Region, issued a resolution expressing support for Abalos’ move.
MMC president and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said reforms are necessary to regain the trust and respect of the people for the PNP as well as to recognize the hard work and sacrifice of the police force in achieving a drug-free Philippines.
Azurin, his entire command group, and other police officers with the ranks of colonels and generals have tendered their courtesy resignations following Abalos’ appeal on Wednesday to address alleged links of the PNP top brass to illegal drugs.
In November last year, the DILG led the simultaneous launch of the government anti-drug program Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan (BIDA). Francisco Tuyay (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
BIDA aims to cut drug demand and rehabilitate drug dependents in the community, with local government units, national government agencies, and other key sectors of society as key partners.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Health will help in the rehabilitation programs; the Department of Trade and Industry will provide livelihood programs; the Department of Labor and Employment can assist in finding job opportunities; and church leaders can help in counseling.
Estomo said the NCRPO supports Abalos’ call to purge the police force, describing their recent test results as a “positive indicator.”
Estomo also said that surprise random drug tests will be conducted on officers under his watch to eliminate drug-using cops in Metro Manila.
“It is important to emphasize that those who tendered courtesy resignation are not drug users. This would reinforce the 5-man assessment committee on their evaluation to be carried out. On the other hand, this may serve as a stern warning to all policemen in the region. No one can run or hide with the continuing conduct of random drug testing,” he added. Francisco Tuyay