SENATOR Sergio Osmeña III on Wednesday said Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisma should be retired early since President Benigno Aquino III won’t sack him for amassing unexplained wealth and accepting gifts that are disallowed by law.
“He should be retired,” Osmeña said of the beleaguered police chief who is facing three plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Interviewed on ABS-CBN, Osmeña said Purisma broke the law when he accepted gifts worth millions of pesos, such as huge discounts for his 4.7-hectare property in Nueva Ecija and several luxury vehicles, then lied about it before the Senate.
Osmeña said Purisima also broke the law when he accepted P11 million in donations to build his official residence in Camp Crame in the absence of a deed of donation.
The Palace continued to defend Purisima Wednesday, saying he had the moral ascendancy to lead the PNP.
“We have to hand it to General Purisima that he answered all those questions truthfully...This is an issue where you see the general answering all the questions with candor,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
But both Osmeña and the chairman of the committee on public order, Senator Grace Poe, said they believed Purisma lied.
While Purisima is loyal to the President, Osmeña said, now is the time for Aquino to put an end to the abuses committed by his police chief.
Osmeña warned that Purisima’s continued stay as chief would jeopardize the passage of the PNP Reform Act and would also endanger the public.
After grilling the police chief during a Senate hearing Tuesday, Osmeña said Purisima was “lying through his teeth” about his properties and his official residence in Camp Crame, which has been dubbed the White House.
The chairman of the Senate committee on public order, Senator Grace Poe, also said Purisima lied during his testimony before her panel.
She said his answers were not those of one would expect from a person with basic intelligence, much less the chief of police.
“He was really lying. Why were his answers like that?” she said, pointing out that Purisima was not credible when he said he had not seen a plan for the White House before it was built.
“Secondly, any member of the government should be very careful if someone is giving you a discount, especially a huge discount. You will think what will [he want] in return?” she said.
Osmeña also questioned the accuracy of Purisima’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, noting that his assets were undervalued.
“This can’t be feasible. I told him...you’re lying,” said Osmeña, an ally of President Aquino.
He also blasted Purisima for accepting as donation of P11 million from three private contractors for the White House.
In the hearing, he told Purisima it was hard to believe that any person would donate a building to the PNP without expecting anything in return.
‘Your friends, they are not doing that out of the goodness their heart. As long as you are in office, they know they can get something from you,” he said.
Instead of accepting the building, Osmeña said, Purisma should have used the donation to improve the facilities of the PNP General Hosital.
Reacting to Purisma’s testimony Wednesday, UP Diliman political science professor Amado Mendoza Jr. said it was hard to believe a police official could accept any sizable donation against the law without any expectations.
He said there is a prohibition for government officials, especially the PNP chief, from accepting gifts or donations.
Testifying for the first time in the senate panel, Purisima admitted he acquired the San Leonardo lot in Nueva Ecija for only P150,000 and a Toyota Land Cruiser for only P1.5 million.
The Nueva Ecija property was the subject of the plunder and graft charges filed against Purisma.
In the Palace, Lacierda said it was up to those who watched Purisma’s testimony to assess if he was truthful.
He would not say, however, if it was ethical of Purisima to accept a huge discount of more than P1 million for a brand new luxury vehicle.
“You know, I’m also new in government, so I would have to refer to policies in civil service or some other government agency that would have a mandate to determine those matters that you asked,” said Lacierda, who has been Aquino’s spokesman for four years.
Lacierda also declined to comment on whether he believed Purisma may have violated the Code of Conduct For Public Officials.
“You have to ask Civil Service Commission. I am in the dark on the rules on the Civil Service Commission,” he said.
Lacierda expressed confidence that Purisima will be able to continue to lead the PNP’s anti-crime campaign, including running after rogue policemen.
“We can rely on Gen. Purisima’s commitment to rid the PNP of scalawags,” Lacierda said.
On Wednesday, pro-Purisima supporters showed up at Camp Crame a day after is testimony before the Senate.
More than 10 of the demonstrators carrying cartolina placards that read “Bravo, Police. Fight Crime” gathered in front of Gate 1 of Camp Crame to show their support for Purisima.
PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor thanked the group for their support.
But another group from the militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno gathered on the other side of the EDSA gate to demand Purisima’s imprisonment.
Roger Soluta, KMU secretary general, said they were dismayed with what Purisima said during last Tuesday’s senate hearing.
“It was deeply disturbing and disgusting that he (Purisima) gave himself a grade of 9 out of 10 on national television. The crime rate and corruption within the PNP are growing and one reason is that he does not provide a good example to ordinary policemen, being the leader of corruption in the PNP,” Soluta said in a statement. – With Francisco Tuyay
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