FOR a regional police office which once gained notoriety for allegedly accepting three unqualified applicants to the force for P1 million, the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Administrative Region (PRO-BAR) this time has detected police candidates who have submitted fake RT-PCR tests angering Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar.
Amid the latest PRO-BAR controversy, the top cop last week ordered all PNP recruitment offices to go after applicants who will be found submitting fake RT-PCR test results as it is really a form of dishonesty which will automatically mean their immediate expulsion from the force.
Gen. Eleazar also announced the arrest of three PRO-BAR applicants for submitting fake RT-PCR test results at the regional recruitment office.
The arrest of the three came as the PNP chief ordered a full stop on purported recruitment anomalies at PRO-BAR in the past including charges that some Mindanao police officials were bribed into accepting unqualified applicants to the regional police force.
There were reports that during the former Macapagal-Arroyo administration, some Mindanao police officials made quick money by demanding P1 million per three police applicants.
The ‘3 applicants for P1 million’ scheme reportedly involved local politicians who shelled out the money to some police commanders to ensure their relatives who have fraudulent credentials but do not possess the minimum qualifications to become a policeman would become PNP members.
As soon as the unqualified candidates got their badge, gun and uniform, they eventually became members of their patrons’ partisan armed group.
Last week, the PRO-BAR was again in the news after several of its applicants were found to have submitted fake RT-PCR tests.
Worst, one of the three was found to be positive for the virus. A PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group report said that an initial investigation conducted by the PNP Health Service showed the erring PRO-BAR applicants paid P500 to P1,500 for the QR Code with negative result.
“But it turned out that they all have the same QR Code coming from a single individual with positive COVID result,” said PNP-IMEG director, Brigadier Gen. Thomas C. Frias Jr.
The official said the head of the PNP Recruitment and Selection Service, Colonel Ma. Leonora Camarao decided to disqualify the applicants following the discovery of the anomaly.
Following the incident, Gen. Eleazar tasked all police units that were given allocation for the more than 17,000 PNP slots that would be recruited this year to coordinate with the PNP Recruitment and Selection Service Unit to check if there are incidents similar to what was discovered in PRO-BAR.
According to Gen. Eleazar, a 4th PRO-BAR applicant was able to evade arrest but will be charged and be subjected to follow-up operations for submitting a fake swab test result.
The PNP chief said the four applicants deliberately submitted the fake RT-PCR tests which made them liable for the deception.
Two of the arrested police applicants were brought to the local prosecutor’s office while the third suspect who tested positive for COVID-19 was placed under isolation.
The PNP chief said there were 66 police applicants who submitted bogus RT-PCR test results during the PRO-BAR recruitment, but the other 62 were cleared of wrongdoing because they did not know that the results they submitted were fake.
The applicants were all from the Maranao tribe of Marawi City and Lanao del Norte.
“Layunin ng ating bagong sistema sa police recruitment na iyong tunay na qualified at tapat sa serbisyo lamang ang makapapasok sa organisasyon. Itong apat na ito, mag-a apply pa lang magpulis, nakuha nang manloko. Akala yata ay makalulusot. Bukod sa blacklisted na sila sa pag-a-apply sa PNP, may asunto pa sila ngayon,” he said.
“Iyong isa na nakatakas, hahabulin natin iyan at pananagutin sa pamemeke niya ng RT- PCR test result,” he added.
Gen. Eleazar has ordered the disqualification of and filing of charges against the police applicants who submit fake RT-PCR results in the recruitment process.
“This should serve as a warning to all police applicants who are planning to do something illegal in the recruitment process,” he said.
“Hindi kami magpapasok sa organisasyon ng dadagdag lang sa aming problema at magbibigay kasiraan sa PNP. Naniniwala ako na mas marami pa rin na gustong magpulis ang karapat-dapat na bigyan ng puwang sa aming hanay,” he added.
The top cop said they found out about the anomaly when a team from the PNP-PRRS led by Col. Camarao went to the PRO-BAR to oversee the ongoing recruitment system amid reports in the past of the prevalence of irregularities in the police recruitment in the area.
The PNP chief said that some of these applicants admitted during investigation that they did not indeed undergo swab test but still submitted the fake document. They said they paid P500 for the fake RT-PCR result.
On the other hand, some of the applicants were subjected to swab test but were unaware that the RT-PCR results they submitted are fake.
“Nagbigay na ako ng instruction na yung mga aplikante na sinadyang mag-submit ng pekeng RT-PCR result ay hindi lang i-disqualify kundi kasuhan na rin. Ito yung sinasabi natin na dapat salain maigi ang mga papasok sa PNP dahil kung ngayon pa lang na gumawa na sila ng kalokohan, sigurado na magiging sakit ng ulo ito sa PNP kapag naging pulis na ang mga ito,” he said.
“Para naman dun sa mga aplikante na hindi alam na naloko sila, they were advised to undergo another swab test and submit the result as soon as possible,” he added.
Gen. Eleazar also directed the PNP -IMEG to conduct an operation against those involved in the production and sale of fake RT-PCR tests in the region.
“We are now conducting an investigation to identify all those involved in this, including personnel of the medical facility which issued the fake RT-PCR results and the signatories in the falsified document, and my instruction is to charge and arrest them all para hindi na makapang-loko pa,” the PNP chief said.
The aggressive reform in the PNP Recruitment System is a long-term internal cleansing measure initiated by Gen. Eleazar under his Intensified Cleanliness Policy when he assumed the top post on May 8 this year in a move to demolish the culture of corruption and ‘padrino’ system in the PNP recruitment system.
He said the anomalous recruitment system is one of the major roots of the culture of abuse and wrongdoings among a few members of the PNP who entered the police service in irregular ways.
Gen. Eleazar said it is highly possible that some enterprising people may lure PNP applicants into believing they could really have themselves hired by the force in exchange for money. “That’s not true. Pero pag me 20 aplikante na nilapitan ang isang tao at natanggap ang 5, eh di kumita pa siya,” he said.
“Ngayon, sa aming bagong systema, kapag nakapasa ang isang aplikante, tiyak na nakapasa siya on his own. Actually, we’re not reinventing the wheel. Ginawa na ito ng ibang Chief, PNP. Hindi ko din sinisisi mga retired generals, naging kultura na kasi ito. This is not an ambitious effort pero kung ito ang makakatulong sa ating internal cleansing program, gawin na natin,” the PNP chief added.