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Editorial

Pure luck?

/ 02:01 AM September 27, 2014

Director General Alan Purisima of the Philippine National Police is one lucky guy. But all that fortuity can’t be coming from nowhere. Is he reaping some sort of karmic reward? Was he a renowned guru, perhaps, in a previous life? A wise and benevolent king who dedicated his life to improving the lot of his subjects? A saint who died witnessing to his faith?

Consider the run of extraordinary luck that Purisima has had lately. Even as he keeps a tight lip, no less than his boss has come to his defense. Reacting to reports that Purisima has a “hidden mansion” in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija, and was a beneficiary of an allegedly anomalous P100-million contract involving the delivery of firearms licenses, President Aquino said he had never known his close friend to be “maluho” (extravagant) or “matakaw” (greedy).

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But that “hidden mansion” is on top of another grand edifice being linked to Purisima—the ostentatiously named White House, supposedly the official residence of the PNP chief, that’s being built in Camp Crame. Housing for select government officials is an ordinary enough benefit, but this one is the king of the hill: a mansion reportedly being built to the tune of P25 million.

Even if he will be ensconced there during his remaining years in office, the parsimonious Purisima is spending nothing for it. More than half of the construction fund is coming from taxpayer money given that the mansion is classified as government property. And the rest of it, about P11 million? This is where his lucky streak hits the home run: The money came from donations by executives of three construction firms—Carlos Gonzales of Ulticon Builders Inc., Alexander Lopez of Pacific Concrete Corp. and Christopher Pastrana of CAPP Industries Inc.

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Now why would such private entities donate sums of money for the construction of the PNP chief’s quarters? For what end? It can’t be all altruism and Kumbaya goodwill on the part of those executives and the boards they report to, unless we were all born yesterday. What do they expect from Purisima and the government he represents in return for the hefty investments they’ve made to be on his good side?

The more consequential question, of course, is why Purisima accepted such donations in the first place.

Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, not only prohibits the PNP chief from indulging in “extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form” (and what is living in a P25-million mansion if not that, while ordinary cops have to make do with niggardly pay and substandard equipment?), it also bans the solicitation or acceptance, directly or indirectly, of “any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value… in the course of his official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of, his office.”

There’s an odd addendum to this extraordinary P11-million gift. The deed of donation between the construction executives and Purisima is reportedly dated Sept. 3, or only after the White House had come under public scrutiny. Were certain arms twisted and favors promised to formalize a so-called donation after the fact, and thus perhaps deodorize the stink of a manifestly overpriced, not to mention maluho, government project?

It’s Purisima who can very well answer such questions. But, lucky man that he is, he’s got his bosses to do that for him. Aside from the President, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas also took up the cudgels for the PNP chief during the Senate hearing on the proposed budget for the Department of Interior and Local Government. Purisima himself was a no-show—not because he’s hiding, mind, but because he’s in Bogota, attending an antikidnapping and antiextortion senior leadership conference.

The man is so blessed. Kidnapping, extortion, car theft, murder and other crimes are running rampant in the country—in many cases perpetrated by policemen themselves—and he still gets to travel and clink glasses with world colleagues. Malacañang, meanwhile, shows no urgency in demanding even a token bit of acknowledgment from its top cop that things have gone from bad to wretched under his watch.

Sen. Grace Poe is right: Purisima should go on leave. The public deserves a break from him.

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TAGS: Alan Purisima, corruption, Editorial, opinion, Philippine National Police, White House
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