Ex-CA justice named to 5-man PNP ‘purging’ committee

February 8, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 483 views

DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” C. Abalos Jr. has identified retired Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Melchor Q. Sadang as the fifth member of the “5-Man Committee” that will purge the Philippine National Police (PNP) of officials with drug links.

A product of the University of the Philippines (UP), Sadang served as CA Associate Justice from 2011 until 2017, when he opted to avail of optional retirement on August 1 of the same year, a move approved by then President Rodrigo Duterte.

He also used to be a judge of the Cavite City Regional Trial Court Branch 17.

Sadang completes the 5-Man Committee tasked by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. (PBBM) to screen the more than 900 PNP Generals and full-fledged Colonels who tendered their “courtesy resignations” to the Commander-in-Chief last January to pave the way for cleansing of PNP officials with a purported link to illegal drug activities, either directly or indirectly.

President Marcos Jr. earlier rejected the courtesy resignation of Gen. Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr., the 28th PNP chief and the first to be designated as the country’s top cop by PBBM in August last year and appointed him to the 5-Man Committee since he knows who really should be in, who should be out in the organization.

The three other members of the 5-Man Committee are said to be men of “impeccable character and untarnished integrity” – all known for their unquestionable service reputation, namely retired Police Major General-turned-Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong; retired Maj. Gen. Isagani R. Nerez, currently the presidential assistant on police affairs; and former Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” C. Teodoro.

Azurin is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1989, while Magalong is from PMA Class 1982. Nerez, a lawyer who used to be a Cordillera Police Regional Office director like Magalong, belongs to PMA Class 1984.

The 5-Man Committee will have the job of screening the list and recommending to the President the acceptance of the resignation of those who will be found to be liable. If all their schedules meet, the committee could finish their job within three months, said Abalos.

The DILG chief described the courtesy resignations of the senior PNP officials as a “radical move” aimed at thoroughly cleansing the police force of officials with links to illegal drug activities.

“I am definite that this advisory group shall remain apolitical throughout the process of screening and in the end, penalize only those guilty and involved in the illegal drug trade,” he underscored.

As head of the national police, Azurin is also an ex-officio commissioner of the National Police Commission (Napolcom). Abalos, also the concurrent chairman of the Napolcom, explained that the body will amend or trim down the list of top PNP officials found linked to the illegal trade before turning over their courtesy resignations to President Marcos for necessary action.

The DILG chief said that Azurin had already been screened and President Marcos did not accept his courtesy resignation, which means he was “cleared.”

“He is needed there as the Chief PNP to also steer the committee. He’s in a position to give, probably, recent intelligence reports, etcetera,” the DILG chief explained.

The DILG chief said that while 12 of the 955 PNP generals and colonels did not file their courtesy resignations, technically, only one top-ranking police officer did not heed his call ahead of the January 31 deadline.

Azurin has called on all Filipinos to put their trust and faith in this process as they hope and work to mold a better and strong PNP that is always ready to serve.

“With this tall order, I assure all the 3rd Level Officers of the PNP that the processes to be undertaken will be fair, objective and judicious at all stages, making sure that zero tolerance for personal biases and political color shall be observed. At the end of this exercise, we can be sure that the PNP will be in good and reliable hands of trustworthy 3rd Level Officers,” Azurin said.

The 5-Man Committee will have PNP Public Information Office chief, Colonel Redrico A. Maranan as its spokesperson.