Editorial: Abalos’ appeal

Calling all colonels and generals to tender their courtesy resignation as part of the national government’s ongoing fight against illegal drugs seems like a desperate move, if not laughable, on the part of Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr.

A Filipino who dreams of a drug-free Philippines can sympathize with Abalos’ appeal to the ranking officials because it can be seen that the government official is bent on cleaning the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The official’s appeal on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023 happened months after the arrest of a police officer who yielded over P13 million worth of illegal drugs.

The investigation that followed has revealed that PNP officials holding “critical positions” are involved in drug trafficking.

Abalos explained that he made the appeal because it would be difficult to expel erring police officers if the PNP would resort to legal remedies.

He said that after receiving the courtesy resignation of the ranking police officers, a five-man committee will evaluate their records.

The police officials will continue serving in the PNP until their resignation is accepted.

Will the full-fledged colonels and generals submit their courtesy resignation? Perhaps, they will not do so unless they are ordered by the PNP chief. But if there is such an order, would it be legally binding?

PNP Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin and members of the command group submitted their courtesy resignation on Thursday, Jan. 5. Will the other colonels and generals follow their chief?

If there are police officials who will not submit their courtesy resignation? What will happen to them?

Experts on law enforcement have said that it is common for some law enforcers to be involved in the illegal drug trade, either as a means of supplementing their income or because they have been threatened by drug traffickers.

Corruption within law enforcement agencies can also make it easier for drug traffickers to operate, as they may be able to pay off officials to turn a blind eye or to provide them with protection.

Drug traffickers may also seek to infiltrate law enforcement agencies like the PNP in order to gather information to further their criminal activities.

The drug menace is a complex problem, and cleaning the institution tasked to enforce laws is not an easy one.

Abalos and the PNP leadership must be told that the country still has laws. Any person who is accused of any wrongdoing must be afforded with due process.

It seems that Abalos’ appeal’s aim is for publicity or “pogi points.” Weeding out bad cops is a serious business, and it entails conducting an in-depth investigation.

The Interior secretary has said that they have already identified the PNP officials involved in the illegal drug trade.

What the PNP must do is gather evidence and complete its investigation, and file charges against those officials if it has enough basis to do so.