TOP PHILIPPINE police officials involved in the illegal drug trade may face prosecution even after retirement, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Sunday.
“Even if a police official is allowed to retire for the time being, the monitoring and investigation must continue, to gather evidence that may lead to eventual criminal prosecution,” Interior Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. said in a statement. “We must always act within the rule of law.”
He said a five-man committee and the National Police Commission would continue investigating retired senior cops involved in illegal drugs.
Mr. Abalos earlier urged all police colonels and generals to resign after a probe found many of them were involved in the illegal drug trade.
The five-man committee will evaluate the records of each top police officer who resigned.
More than 900 generals and colonels of the Philippine National Police have heeded the quit call to cleanse their ranks of “a deep infection” of the illegal drug trade, police spokesperson Colonel Jean S. Fajardo told reporters at the weekend.
The DILG chief had said those who submit courtesy resignations could continue working while their records were assessed by the committee. Those who refuse to quit were deemed “questionable.”
National police chief General Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr., who quit on Jan. 5, said police officers proven to have engaged in illegal drug activities would be sanctioned by the committee but would receive retirement benefits.
He said his resignation as police chief would be considered an application for his retirement, adding that he supports the Interior chief’s call to rid the PNP of misfits.
Arjan P. Aguirre, who teaches political science at the Ateneo de Manila University, said it is uncertain how the resignations would improve local law enforcement.
“It has become obvious that this government might be using this for optics to make them appear to be using a different approach to curb the drug problem,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.
The state should be more transparent by publishing its investigation results, he added.
Mr. Abalos earlier said law enforcers had seized about P10 billion worth of illegal drugs in 24,000 drug operations last year. About 30,000 drug suspects were arrested under the Marcos administration.
Police had killed 46 drug suspects during illegal drug operations under the new administration, Mr. Azurin, who was appointed police chief in August, said in November.
Human rights abuses continued in the first six months of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s rule, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report last week.
The global watchdog said drug war killings, communist tagging and attacks against journalists continue to damage the country’s democratic institutions.
Law enforcers killed more than 6,000 drug suspects in police raids on July 1 to May 31 last year, it said, citing government data. — John Victor D. Ordoñez