MALACAÑANG on Wednesday said it has the necessary evidence to implicate five police generals that President Rodrigo Duterte said were protecting drug lords.
“The evidence [documentary or testimonial] against the named generals should not be released yet as it may prejudice the administrative and criminal investigations and cases against them,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told reporters in a text message.
“A premature release of evidence through the media may also violate the constitutional right to due process of those involved,” Andanar added.
The Interior Department, which has supervision all over the police and local governments, said it is ready to validate the evidence collated by President Duterte against the police officials, who all denied the accusations against them.
“We have to back him [Duterte] up. We really have to support him. He won’t say anything like that if there is no strong evidence to link them,” Interior Secretary Mike Sueno said.
He added that the public should expect a wider crackdown on government officials and politicians involved in the illegal drug trade.
On Tuesday, Duterte named the 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. The two other officials named were retired.
Sueno said two teams have already been formed to look into the allegations against the police generals.
“We have to give them due process,” Sueno said.
The Interior Department held an emergency meeting with the National Police Commission on Wednesday to establish the results of the ongoing probe against the five officials involved and “other possible names linked to the illegal drug trade, particularly politicians and other government officials.”
The President said the police officials supposedly involved in illegal drugs or protection of drug syndicates committed “treason” because they destroy people’s lives, citing the government funded their education through taxpayers’ money.
The Napolcom said it will investigate the cases of the three police generals still in active service—Joel Pagdilao, Bernardo Diaz and Edgardo Tinio. A regular court will handle the case of retired general Marcelo Garbo while the Interior Department will handle the case of Vicente Loon, now a mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu.
“Only administrative cases will be filed there. Ultimate penalty they can give is dismissal from service,” Andanar added.
Pagdilao, Diaz and Tinio met with PNP chief Dela Rosa at his office in Camp Crame Wednesday morning.
Dela Rosa said he told them they would have to face the music if they were guilty of wrongdoing, but declined to offer other details about their meeting.
“What was discussed inside was purely intimate and personal, I cannot discuss it in public,” Dela Rosa told the media after emerging from nearly an hour-long meeting.
Dela Rosa was obviously moved. “I want to cry with them,” he said.
The three police officials denied the accusations and say they would cooperate with an investigation.
“I am ready to face any investigation. Right now, my focus is to clear my name before I retire from the service,” Tinio said.
Tinio, a member of the PMA Class 1985, has still a year and six months before his mandatory retirement. He was not given any assignment during Friday’s massive revamp.
“Once I clear my name, I will go on early retirement,” Tinio said.
Tinio said Duterte may have been fed wrong information, and said his performance in the service, especially against illegal drugs, will speak for itself.
Pagdilao said it was preposterous to drag his name into drugs.
“There’s no truth that I am involved in drugs. In fact, I’ve been fighting the illegal drugs menace. In my 32 years in the police service never have I been involved in drugs,’’ Pagdilao said.
Pagdilao said he does not understand why his name was included in the list read by Duterte during a speech at the Air Force’s 69th anniversary.
Diaz also denied links to the illegal drug trade and cited his track record.
He said he had three good reasons to be intolerant of drugs: his cousin died because of drug abuse, his niece was killed by a suspected drug user, and his younger brother became addicted to drugs in the 1980s.
Dela Rosa on Wednesday hinted that a second wave of revelations would be forthcoming.
The PNP chief said he no longer had jurisdiction over Garbo or Loot, who are both retired, but said he was willing to meet them, too.
Napolcom Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao said he has formed an investigating body led by him and Napolcom commissioners.
He said he has given the body seven days to gather evidence against Diaz, Pagdilao, and Tinio.
“The result of their investigation will be given to the ad hoc committee for evaluation of the pieces of evidence they have evaluated which will be then submitted to the Commission en banc for final decision,” Casurao said.
He added the decision will be out within a month.
He said the commission was ordered directly by the President to investigate the case, which it would do without violating due process.
Also on Wednesday, Dela Rosa ordered the transfer of 32 policemen, including seven officials, to three areas in Mindanao, keeping his promise that those implicated in wrongdoing would be sent to the south to battle the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
The first batch of 32 police personnel to be transferred will go to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, the Zamboanga peninsula and the Caraga region.
Most come from Metro Manila and the Quezon City Police Department.
Dela Rosa vowed to send more errant policemen to Mindanao.
Former Interior secretary and losing presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II on Wednesday denied any links to the generals implicated by Duterte.
“It has come to my attention that some online sites and traditional media outlets have branded certain individuals as ‘Roxas Generals.’ Despite lacking any clear basis, the insinuation is that these individuals campaigned for me in the last election,” Roxas said in a statement to reporters.
“To be clear: there are no Roxas Generals. The persons named were not part of my campaign,” he added.
Two of those named by the President—Diaz and Garbo—were part of the so-called Novotel Generals spotted by journalists in a closed-door meeting with supporters of President Benigno Aquino III at the height of the campaign.
“My professional working relationship with some of these individuals started when I took over the helm of DILG, and ended when I tendered my resignation in 2015,” he said.
“Let me emphasize that I have never supported nor encouraged illegal drugs. It is a plague that afflicts families, rich or poor, and destroys the fabric of family life. During my tenure in the DILG, one of my priorities for the PNP was to escalate the fight against illegal drugs. Billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs were confiscated, and hundreds arrested and charged, in fulfillment of my directives.’’
With Joel E. Zurbano
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