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Fallout from a tragedy

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Last week two German hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf since April were released after full payment of a P250-million ransom demand. This according to Abu Sayyaf sources.

Posted: October 20th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Who is in charge?

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It has been a week since we suffered another humiliating debacle at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Posted: October 13th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Assassination

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Last month, the US Secret Service, the agency tasked to protect its national leaders, was rocked by a series of security lapses that resulted in the firing of its director, Julia Pierson.

Posted: October 6th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Faulty judgment calls by PNP chief Purisima

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Philippine National Police spokesperson, Chief Supt. Reuben T. Sindac, recently announced that PNP “honesty teams” are being deployed around the country to identify rogue policemen who use their positions for kidnapping and extortion activities. This is small comfort for hapless citizens who have long been victimized by law enforcers and are wary of police officers, “honest” or “dishonest.” Does the PNP have a master list of honest officials who can run after the dishonest ones? One need only check with the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to find out how many policemen are facing charges for various offenses. Their cases have been pending for years at the Napolcom, but they continue to serve in the police force with some even getting promoted in the meantime.

With the noticeable rise in criminal activities in the country, one must ask whatever happened to the so-called “transformation program” of the PNP. South Korea, a leading source of tourist visitors for the country, has reported the Philippines as a dangerous place for its citizens, citing statistics that have not been denied or questioned. If it were a South Korean police chief involved, he would have been sacked long ago.

As of this writing, in the face of a deteriorating peace and order situation, including reported activities of the Islamic State in Mindanao, PNP chief Alan Purisima is still out of the country. He has been charged with plunder, unexplained wealth and indirect bribery at the Office of the Ombudsman. He is expected to explain these issues when he returns.

What I would like to focus on are judgment calls that reveal some aspects of the character of the man.

First, when the Senate committee on public order, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, invited him to attend a meeting on a program for the modernization of the police force, for some reason, he sent his representative. While the invitation probably called for him or his representative, one would think, on such an important subject Purisima would have wanted to present the PNP position himself. The lady-senator did not take too kindly to the no-show police chief.

Second, he decides to attend a conference in Bogota, Colombia, on antikidnapping and antiextortion activities for senior police leaders. What could he possibly gain from personally attending such a conference? The problems and their possible solutions are clearly here at home. He is not going to get any valuable insights from hobnobbing with other police officials halfway around the globe. His presence in

Bogota can be likened to Roman Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Third, why would he solicit and accept donations for the construction of the PNP chief’s official residence at Camp Crame? Let us accept that a new residence was probably needed because the old one had been battered by numerous typhoons that hit the country. It is also true that the residence will remain at Camp Crame for the use of future police directors.

However, prudence dictates that construction of government facilities is best done through official appropriations and properly bid out and accounted for. Three construction firms have been identified as having donated P11 million of the total cost of P25 million for construction of the residence. What do these firms expect to receive in return for their generosity? I can appreciate businesses donating motorcycles and computers to police units, items that would support the force in their anticrime efforts; but a house for the chief costing P25 million is a bit extravagant.

Recently Pope Francis sacked a German archbishop for the construction of a mansion that would serve as the official residence of the head of the archdiocese. When I graduated from the PAF Flying School in 1957, our guest speaker was Maj. Gen. John Ackerman, commander of the US 13th Air Force in Clark Air Base, Pampanga. A year after graduation, we learned that Ackerman had been relieved of command for extravagant renovations made on his residence at Clark.

In these three instances, Purisima could have exercised better judgment thus saving himself a lot of trouble and heartburn. The unexplained wealth issue is a separate matter that now requires a detailed clarification.

* * *

Alan, Come home, say something, and maybe take a vacation. Nahihirapan ang Presidente sa iyo.

* * *

One of the most significant developments in the fight against corruption in the judiciary is the recent sacking by the Supreme Court of Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong. While the impeachment and subsequent conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona caught the attention of the entire nation, the case was somewhat tainted by the release of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds to a number of senators after Corona’s removal from office.

For some time now, Ong had been the subject of unsavory tales concerning judicial venality. It is difficult to completely cover up these activities. The members of the legal profession who often deal with court cases are usually the first to reveal which justices can be bought and at what price.

Ong now has the dubious distinction of being the first Sandiganbayan justice to be dismissed from office since the court was created by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1978. He was appointed by President Joseph Estrada in 1998 and was the most senior among the 14 associate justices of the antigraft court.

By a vote of 8-5, the high court found Ong guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety for fraternizing with litigants.

The Supreme Court ruling noted that Ong was a repeat offender, and the Court took away all his retirement benefits except for “accrued leave benefits” and prohibited him from seeking reemployment in any branch or agency of government.

This should send a strong message to other members of our judiciary with similar inclinations. Our justice system will only be as strong and reliable as its individual pillars. A corrupt judiciary weakens and erodes the whole system.

Posted: September 29th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Remembering Macario Sakay

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More than a century ago on July 4, 1902, US President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation officially ending what Americans referred to as the “Philippine Insurrection.”

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

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