Ghost of the past: Why Azurin is supporting mass courtesy resignation of PNP colonels, generals

The ghost of the past on how it was like to be publicly tagged as involved in illegal drugs trade has convinced Philippine National Police (PNP) Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. that internal cleansing needs no bravado approach, rather, a radical but systematic one.

"There were some generals who were directly accused but until now, they remain accused. They were never cleared. No case has been filed against them," said Azurin.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. explains why he supports the call of Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos for all 956 police colonels and generals to submit courtesy resignation during a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2022.

He was referring to the so-called narco-generals who were publicly named in 2016-- Marcelo Garbo, Joel Pagdilao, Bernardo Diaz, Vicente Loot and Edgardo Tinio.

"Unfortunately until now, they continue to suffer because they were never cleared so every time there is an opportunity for them to hold a position, they continue to suffer the nightmare of being included in that list. This is unfair," said Azurin.

"And who is also suffering? Their family," he added.

The worst part, according to him, is that the so-called narco-generals suffered the stigma of being tagged as involved in illegal drugs trade even after their retirement from the police service.

This is the reason, according to Azurin, why he fully supported the idea of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos, Jr. for all 956 full colonels and generals to submit courtesy resignation.

On Thursday, Jan. 5, Azurin led the PNP top brass in heeding the call of Abalos.

Azurin insinuated that naming PNP officials involved in illegal drugs activities should stop unless there is sufficient pieces of evidence to pin them down.

"There must be a more suitable and acceptable solution for everybody. So this time, let us submit ourselves for an assessment and evaluation by an independent committee with proven integrity," said Azurin.

"At first it would look unfair, but this is a chance for every third level officer to clear their name so that once there would be allegations or innuendos that would crop up anew, they would know that they are not referred to," he added.

The rank of full colonel up to general are classified as third level officers.

Moral challenge

For Azurin, the submission of courtesy resignation is a rare chance of radical internal cleansing.

"The appeal for courtesy resignation particularly addressed to our senior officers is a wakeup call to all PNP members, to reflect on how and what has happened in our respective careers. We must contemplate among ourselves if our contributions to the PNP have made it better or worse in the eyes of the public we made an oath to serve," said Azurin.

"This exercise to be undertaken by the senior officers is more of a moral challenge rather than a legal battle," he added.

He then called on the members of the Committee of Five which will make the evaluation and assessment to be fair and spare the PNP from politics.

"We likewise respectfully demand that the process be made objective, impartial, judicious, and fair. We demand as well that the proceedings be made apolitical, and that personal issues and biases be set aside for a more acceptable outcome,:" said Azurin.

What happens then?

All the courtesy resignation will be accepted by the Committee of Five whose compositions will be selected by the Office of the President.

Senior police officials who would submit the courtesy resignation will remain in their posts unless their resignation is accepted.

And once the resignation is accepted, Azurin said the concerned officers will be deemed resigned from their posts.

"All of the third level officers are already qualified for retirement so definitely once the courtesy resignation is accepted, officially they will be retired and when they retire of course they will get their benefits and entitlements," said Azurin.