PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday named five police generals that he said were protecting drug lords, relieved three of them and ordered them to report to Philippine National Police chief Director-General Ronald dela Rosa.
“I would like to name publicly: Gen. Marcelo Garbo, he is protector of syndicates in the country; [former] Gen. Vicente Loot, a municipal mayor of Cebu; Gen. Bernardo Diaz, former regional director of Region 11; Gen. [Joel] Pagdilao, director of NCRPO (the National Capital Region Police Office); and Gen. [Edgardo] Tinio, former district director of the Quezon City Police District,” Duterte said.
The police generals denied Duterte’s accusations, and one of them decried the lack of due process.
But Dela Rosa said he would give them the opportunity to clear their names.
“I will talk to them and I will listen to their explanation. Those who are already retired I cannot compel them to talk with me because they are no longer under my jurisdiction. They are no longer under my command,” he said.
He also revealed that the three generals who are still in active service—Diaz, Pagdilao and Tinio—were already relieved on July 1.
Discarding a prepared speech during the celebration of the 69th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force at Clark Air Base, Pampanga, the President spoke extemporaneously on the worsening drug problem.
“I am compelled by my sense of duty to say to all of you those who are involved in the illegal drug trade one way or another that contributed to deterioration of law and order of this country,” he said.
“It has deteriorated with advent of drugs because of the corrosive effects of money,” he added.
Two of the five police generals that were named are already retiredMarcelo Garbo Jr. and Vicente Loot.
Garbo, a former PNP deputy director-general and a graduate from the Philippine Military Academy batch 1981 is a close ally of losing presidential candidate and former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II. He was one of the so-called Novotel Generals seen meeting at the Novotel Araneta Center owned by Roxas’ family.
Loot is the newly elected mayor of Daanbantayan town in Cebu province.
Duterte said the involvement of the five police generals in the drug trade had been validated many times.
“Even when I was mayor of Davao, their names were being mentioned,” he said in Filipino.
He also said he was disappointed that police officers who trained and studied at the people’s expense later turned to the illicit drug trade.
“It’s saddening because the state funded their education, you gave them uniform, socks, and spent [money]. By any language it is really treason,” he added.
Duterte acknowledged that it would take longer than his promised six months to wipe out crime, but said the campaign against drugs would continue.
“Many more will die.... It’s going to be a dirty fight, it’s going to be a bloody fight. I’m not apologizing for it… I have been warning everybody. At the end of my speeches, when I was campaigning for the presidency, I always end by saying “Do not destroy my country because I will kill you. Do not destroy the young people of this country because I will kill you,” he said.
In the same speech, Duterte defended his plan to reintroduce the death penalty, saying that this will not deter criminality but was a form of retribution.
Duterte also vowed to protect law enforcement officers who are dedicated to their duty.
The President also said he would reveal the names of other government officials who were involved in the illegal drug trade, but said he was still validating the information he received.
Tinio, one of the retired police generals named by Duterte, said he would use his remaining months in service by proving that he was not “a plague on society.”
“I still have one year and six months in service. I plan to clear my name,” he told radio dzBB.
In a separate interview with GMA News, he said being named a protector of the drug trade was unfair because he was not given due process.
“I was caught unaware, flatfooted. “It’s sad that the President has been given the wrong information,” he added.
Diaz told radio dzMM that he might have been the victim of mistaken identity.
He said he hated illegal drugs because a close relative of his was once lured into the drug trade.
Loot said he was “a victim of propaganda” because of his family’s involvement in politics.
Also on Tuesday, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Investigation said all agents and employees would be subject to surprise random drug testing.
Ferdinand Lavin, director 1 of Negros Island Region and newly-designated NBI spokesman, said he could offer no further details of the testing at the moment. With Sandy Araneta, AFP
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