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‘Fatalistic’ Duterte to continue riding choppers even after PNP chief’s near-fatal crash

in News/Tabloid PH News

The helicopter crash that injured the country’s top police officials on Thursday (March 5) will have no effect on President Duterte’s preference for choppers in getting to his sorties on time, his spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said.

Panelo told reporters that knowing Duterte’s “fatalistic” orientation, a mishap occurring while he is riding a helicopter is something that the President just dismisses. This is why he is often seen taking helicopters to his official functions. He also joins aerial inspections via choppers.

Panelo said this makes it very unlikely that Duterte will stop riding choppers, even after the near-fatal crash of a 2-year-old Bell 429 chopper in San Pedro, Laguna carrying PNP Chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, Major Generals Jovic Ramos and Mariel Magaway, his comptrollership and intelligence heads, respectively; Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, the PNP spokesman; an aide, a technician and 2 pilots.

“You know the President, the President naman always says ‘if it’s my time, it’s my time.’ Fatalistic siya eh,” Panelo said.

Gamboa’s condition is already stable, with a picture of him on a hospital bed beside Senator Ronald dela Rosa, Duterte’s first PNP chief, already posted on social media.

Only Ramos and Magaway were reported to be still in critical condition. 

“Initial accounts reveal that the mishap was caused by the helicopter getting in contact with a high-tension wire due to poor visibility. With this, we ask the public to refrain from making speculations relative to the circumstances as we wait for the official results of the probe on the incident,” Panelo said.

He said Duterte will most likely visit the PNP officials, just like what the President always does when a uniformed personnel was injured while on official duty.

PNP’s OIC Gamboa to review downgrading of dismissal order against ‘ninja cops’

in News/Tabloid PH News

The officer in charge (OIC) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said he will personally review the case involving the 13 Pampanga police officers, whose dismissal order for alleged involvement in a drug-recycling case was downgraded to mere demotion.

Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, who was appointed by President Duterte to head the PNP vice Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said as a lawyer, he is aware of several options to take to ensure the outcome of the review will be satisfactory to the Chief Executive and the public.

“Abogado naman ako and baka matingnan natin nang maayos. Rest assured sa publiko, wala itong bias,” Gamboa said in an interview with radio station DZMM on Thursday (October 17).

Gamboa noted that he has the “disciplinary authority” to review the case, which is now also being investigated by the Senate in aid of legislation.

He said there are other offices within the PNP that can ensure better appreciation of the evidence against the implicated Pampanga police officers, who were accused of pilfering 160 kilos of methamphetamine that they seized in an operation in 2013. 

Albayalde’s name was dragged into the case, as witnesses in the Senate probe said he tried to intervene in behalf of these officers. Albayalde left his post ahead of his scheduled retirement next month.

Gamboa also vowed to address the disappointment expressed by Duterte over the “ninja cops” controversy involving uniformed personnel who are recycling narcotics confiscated in operations.

“Lahat naman ng nag-attend doon napakinggan nila iyon,” Gamboa said. “It’s a challenge on my leadership, kahit na OIC ako, that I should do something about the impression of the President. Hindi naman kailangan ko pang, ‘Sir ano bang gawin natin?’ Dapat may initiative ako kung anong dapat kong gawin at ipiniprepara ko iyan.” 

Gamboa is among the top candidates for the post vacated by Albayalde, his classmate at the Philippine Military Academy.

Head of Internal Affairs Service backs proposal strengthening the agency amid ‘ninja cops’ mess

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The head of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) supported a proposed bill that seeks to make the agency independent of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the setup in other countries like the United States that makes it more effective in combatting malpractices among men in uniform.

Lawyer Alfegar Triambulo, director of IAS, said they have been meaning to ask lawmakers to pass a law that will strengthen the agency, including its independence from the PNP and the power to launch both criminal and administrative investigations against rogue cops.

Triambulo added that they also want mechanisms that would enable them to give better protection to witnesses against corrupt police officers.

“Maraming gustong magsalita laban sa katiwalian sa pulis natin, pero natatakot kasi wala nga kaming ibinibigay na proteksyon sa kanila,” Triambulo said in an interview with radio station DZMM on Wednesday (October 16).

He added: ”Aming isinusulong na maging independent katulad ng mga IAS na aming napuntahan sa ibang bansa kaya sila ay matibay at kinatatakutan ng mga police organization.” 

Last October 15, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles called on fellow lawmakers to expedite the approval of proposals seeking to separate the IAS from the PNP chain-of-command.

Nograles said an independent IAS is needed now more than ever due to the diminished integrity of the existing IAS amid allegations of a cover-up by top police officials on the wrongdoings of their subordinates in the so-called “ninja cops” controversy.

The IAS currently reports to the PNP chief, as it is an essential part of the disciplinary mechanism of the organization. “It means that the IAS, based on their findings, can only recommend an action to the PNP chief. There is a flaw in the procedure because the IAS is only a recommendatory body, they have no prosecutorial powers,” Nograles said.

“As the office that oversees the conduct of the uniformed personnel, the IAS should be free from influence, pressure, and intervention from the chief PNP, and other high-ranking PNP officers in adjudicating administrative cases,” he added.

The lawmaker said if the IAS becomes independent, the recommendations of the agency will be given more importance. “I also want to give them prosecutorial powers para sila na mismo ang totoong magpu-pulis sa mga pulis (so that the IAS itself will truly police the police).”

Nograles filed House Bill 3065, seeking the removal of IAS from the supervision and control of the PNP chief. It aims to transfer the agency under the direct supervision of the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government.

Apart from investigating and adjudicating administrative wrongdoings of PNP personnel, the proposed measure also seeks to empower the IAS to have recommendatory powers in the selection and promotion of PNP personnel, including the PNP chief. The IAS could also provide assistance to the Office of the Ombudsman and other PNP Disciplinary Offices in cases involving PNP personnel. It can also recommend the admission to the witness protection program of the Department of Justice of witnesses who are vital to the prosecution of PNP personnel involved in criminal cases. 

Triambulo said the IAS in the country is not feared by rogue police officers because of its current structure, unlike in other jurisdictions.

Duterte deferring action vs ‘ninja cops’ until end of Senate, DILG investigations

in News/Tabloid PH News

President Duterte is deferring any action against police officers—including the current chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP)—who were implicated in the alleged recycling of seized illegal drugs until the Senate has completed its probe on the so-called “ninja cops”.

Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement that the President is closely monitoring the developments in the Senate hearings even while he is fulfilling his commitments in his second state visit to Russia.

“As our Chief Executive has mentioned in many occasions, there will be hell to pay for those who become worse than criminals. The President, however, will let Congress do and finish its investigation in aid of legislation before taking any formal action on the issue of these ninja cops,” Panelo said.

He added: “The President’s unyielding posture against illegal drugs and those who destroy the country, regardless of whether they belong to the government, by spreading these substances in our communities, will not waver.”

Aside from the Senate probe, Duterte has tasked Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo to conduct a parallel internal probe on the “ninja cops” controversy, which dragged the name of PNP Chief, General Oscar Albayalde. 

“He will wait for the recommendation of the DILG Secretary when he is finished with his internal investigation,” Panel said.

In one of the hearings of the Senate, Albayalde’s name was mentioned by former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as one of the personalities linked to the recycling of illegal drugs that were seized during police operations. Albayalde denied Magalong’s allegations.

Panelo said at this time, Albayalde still has the backing of Duterte. “Until such time that he (Duterte) says that he doesn’t have, the presumption is the General has his trust and confidence.”

Duterte is currently on a five-day official visit to Russia.

In a forum in Valdai, Russia, Duterte said: ”When I took over, I found out about nine generals were involved in the trafficking of drugs. And right now, even as I fly here and go back, there are about again two generals who are still playing with drugs. And I said, ‘Well, I told you do not destroy my country because it is being flooded with drugs.’” 

7 foreign terrorists confirmed to have entered PHL, 60 more being monitored by AFP

in News/Tabloid PH News

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) disclosed that it is now monitoring at least 67 suspected foreign terrorists that have entered the country, most likely via the Southern Philippines backdoor.

Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, in an interview with radio station DZMM, said seven of these foreigners have been confirmed to be terrorist fighters, and the rest are still for monitoring and confirmation.

“We are not saying they (60 foreigners) are really terrorist fighters, but they are being monitored to determine what is their purpose in coming to the country,” Arevalo said.

The AFP, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (AFP) are now on heightened alert to prevent a repeat or spillover of the most recent bombing incident in the country last Sunday in Indanan, Sulu.

Arevalo said they have also enlisted some paramilitary men, mostly fishermen, to help in patrolling the waters around Sulu to prevent the entry of more foreign terrorists via the southern backdoor. 

These foreign terrorists are operating under the wing of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“What is important right now is the AFP is in full alert, not just in monitoring but also actual combat operations, because we really need to end this Abu Sayyaf Group,” Arevalo stressed.

The AFP has also sought the help of its counterparts in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, and the US. More importantly, Arevalo said they need the cooperation of the public in information sharing, to avoid casualties from the military and civilian sector in case of another attack.

Arevalo also said they have already sent DNA samples to the PNP to determine if the suicide bomber in the Indanan, Sulu attack was indeed a female caucasian as earlier reported. She was the fourth suicide bomber in the Philippines, the first being a Filipino and the other two an Indonesian couple.

Arevalo did not say if the recent suicide bombing would lead to an extension of the Martial Law currently in effect in Mindanao. 

“It’s too early to talk of an extension or non extension (of Martial Law), but this will have an impact on our assessment,” Arevalo said, stressing that the ultimate decision will come from President Duterte.

Duterte eyes 1:500 cops-to-population ratio by next year

in News/Tabloid PH News

The Duterte administration is targeting to achieve the “ideal” 1:500 police-to-population ratio by next year by opening some 37,000 new positions in the Philippine National Police (PNP).

According to World Atlas, the generally accepted police to civilian ratio is 1:450, or approximately 225 police officers for every 100,000 people (per capita). 

World Atlas said Vatican City has the most police officers per capita at 15,439 (if its population is stretched to 100,000 for the purpose of computing the ratio on a per capita basis). The United States, although already with a high 3.4:1,000 police-to-population ratio, is not in the top 30.

President Duterte, in his message to the Congress in pushing the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, highlighted the need the to enlist more police officers to make sure economic growth is complemented with peace and order. “Progress without peace is futile. And to pursue progress without seeking peace – or without the willingness to pay the price for peace – is like wanting to make an omelet without breaking eggs.” 

With this, Duterte wants 10,000 new police officer positions in the PNP, and another 26,685 slots for non-officer ranked policemen. These new positions to be created will entail an additional allocation of P17.4 billion for the PNP.

“This will bring our police-to-population ratio to the ideal ratio of 1:500,” the Chief Executive said.

In the proposed 2020 budget, the PNP’s share is P184.9 billion, 30 percent higher than its allocation this year.

Some P100 million of this amount will go to the construction of 16 new police stations nationwide.

The PNP is also poised to get P546 million for its anti-illegal drug campaign, a key program of the Duterte administration.

Another Chinese nabbed in casino-related kidnapping as police form POGO task force

in News/Tabloid PH News

Police arrested another Chinese national for allegedly kidnapping a fellow Chinese in Makati City, adding to the rising number of gambling-related abductions that prompted the Philippine National Police (PNP) to form a task force dedicated to stopping these criminal activities.

Police identified the suspect as Zhaochun “Zhan Hao” Chen, 21. He was arrested on Wednesday (August 21) along with Mark Anthony Pareño, 24; John Muega, 24; Reyan Villanueva, 35; and Joe Marie Lavilla, 31, while reportedly trying to kidnap Ma Zhi Rui, 36.

On Monday, the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) presented to the media  Libu Xu, one of the alleged kidnappers of victim Xiaoguo Bian, 25, from Shandong in China.

To address the rising cases of gambling-related kidnappings involving Chinese nationals, the PNP-AKG said it is deploying teams to areas with Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) so they can immediately respond to reports of abductions in these casinos.

“This is part of our effort to address the problem of rising number of casino-related kidnappings wherein almost all of the victims are Chinese and almost all of the perpetrators are also Chinese,” PNP-AKG Director, Col. Jonnel Estomo was quoted in a report of the Manila Bulletin.

The spokesman of the PNP-AKG, Lt. Col. Elmer Cereno, said they will also deploy intelligence operatives in all casinos. “The deployment of intelligence operatives is part of our pro-active measures to address this problem.”

The AKG has also advised all policemen, especially community precincts and police stations located near casinos, to be wary of small groups of Chinese turning over foreigners as the police force could be unwittingly exploited in extortion rackets.

The AKG said the so-called POGOs, which employs an estimated 200,000 Chinese, have probably become magnets of groups victimizing Chinese tourists who frequent these casinos.

“Consequently, it can also be attributed to the increasing numbers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) operating in the Philippines. As of June 9, 2019, there were 56 licensed POGOs in the country, that employs an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 Chinese nationals. Yet, there were numbers (more or less 30) of illegal POGOS operating in the country,” Cereno said last week.

Since 2017, the PNP AKG recorded 52 cases of casino-related kidnappings and arrested 119 Chinese kidnappers.

CSC tells public: Giving gifts to state officials not allowed by law

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The Civil Service Commission (CSC) called on the public to avoid giving gifts to unformed men and other state employees, stressing that this practice is not allowed by law. What they should do instead,  CSC Commissioner Aileen Lizada said, is to send thank you letters to the concerned officials.

Lizada cited provisions of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act to finally put an end to the debate on what are those gifts of“insignificant amount” that state personnel can accept from the public, as mentioned by President Duterte.

Lizada, in an interview over radio station DZMM, said under the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, gifts can only be accepted on three instances:  gifts of nominal value given by foreign governments as a souvenir or mark of courtesy; grants like scholarship or medical treatment; and travel grant, including lodging and transportation allowance.

Under the anti-graft law, Lizada said noted that gifts cannot be accepted “even on the occasion of a family celebration or national festivity like Christmas, if the value of the gift is under the circumstances manifestly excessive.” 

She added that a 1972 decree by then-President Ferdinand Marcos made it “punishable for public officials to receive and private persons to give gifts on any occasion, including Christmas.”

Lizada, thus, recommended letters of thanks instead of gifts, as these can become part of the employees’ “201 file” and can prove to be of great value when they are being considered for promotion. 

“When you serve, your office should be beyond reproach, beyond suspicion kaya wag na ho kayong tumanggap [ng regalo] (don’t accept gifts). Bayad na ho kasi kami (we are already paid) when people file their respective income tax returns,” Lizada said in the DZMM interview. “Okay na ho sa amin ang ‘thank you (thanky you is enough).” 

Last week, President Duterte told policemen that they can accept gifts that were given by the people out of gratitude and generosity. 

The National Police and other government officials then started issuing statements to clarify that Duterte was referring to gifts of “inconsiderable” amount. As to what can be classified as inconsiderable,  Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission’s Greco Belgica said this can be as high as P100,000. Senator Panfilo Lacson said the practice of giving and accepting gifts should not be allowed as this would only lead to graft. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said what can be allowed are “unsolicited” gifts of nominal value. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra then said the CSC should set guidelines on what type of gifts the government employees can accept.

PNP scrambles to clarify Duterte pronouncement on accepting gifts

in News/Tabloid PH News

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is now apparently scrambling to issue clarificatory statements on the pronouncement of President Duterte last Friday that he is allowing policemen to accept gifts from the public—be it in kind or in cash—as long as they are given out of generosity and gratitude.

PNP Chief Gen. Oscar Albyalde said over DZMM Radio on Monday morning (August 12) that he believes the President was only referring to gifts of small value, as it is what is consistent with the law, 

“Ang sa tingin kong sinasabi ni Pangulo ay siguro ‘yung minsan kapag birthday, may nagpapadala nang pagkain na hindi naman alam o kung merong natulungan. Sa batas natin ‘yung insignificant ‘yung value gaya po ng mga pagkain na consumable na maliit na bagay. Pero ‘yun pong malalaking bagay lalo na kapag may kapalit na pabor, bawal na bawal po ‘yan (What I think the President said was maybe sometimes when there is a birthday celebration, some people send food that is not expected, or someone received some assistance. In our law, those with insignificant value, like food that is consumable and other small tokens. But those with significant value, especially if in exchange of favors, that is not allowed; that is prohibited already),” Albyalde said in the interview.

The PNP Chief is citing Section 14 of Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which states: “Unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship according to local customs or usage, shall be excepted from the provisions of this Act.” 

Last Saturday, PNP Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, said while they submit to the “better wisdom of our lawyer-President”, Duterte’s statement automatically comes with the condition that there should be “no element of corruption involved and no oppression or abuse of authority is committed.”

“We always explain to the public that there is no need for them to give gifts as we are just doing our job and we get paid by the Filipino people through our salaries,” Banaca said. 

On Friday (August 9), Duterte said he will not sanction policemen who will accept gifts from people recognizing their efforts. “Especially if you’re a policeman, if you’re able to solve a crime, and the family would like to be generous to you, or would nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplished, then by all means, accept it,” Duterte said in his address at the 118th Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Service Anniversary.

“If you are just content of, maybe you want ₱50,000 and you’re able to get something like ₱25,000 or ₱20,000, be content. Do not allow your greed to run away with all the alam mo na, kalokohan…It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law,” said Duterte, who previously worked as a prosecutor,” the President continued. 

Duterte was threading between provisions of RA 3019 and RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. These laws prohibit state personnel from soliciting or accepting gifts, but allow unsolicited gifts of insignificant value, and not given in exchange of a favor.

Duterte to cops: Accept gifts from grateful people

in News/Tabloid PH News

President Duterte is allowing policemen to accept gifts—be they in cash or in kind—from people recognizing their efforts without fear of being charged with graft.

“Especially if you’re a policeman, if you’re able to solve a crime, and the family would like to be generous to you, or would nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplished, then by all means, accept it,” Duterte said in his address at the 118th Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Service Anniversary on Friday (August 9).

Duterte stressed that he does not see the logic in the provisions of the anti-graft law barring policemen from accepting gifts given out of generosity or gratitude.

What he does not allow, the Chief Executive stressed, is for uniformed men to become greedy and engage in corruption by demanding more than what was given to them. 

“If you are just content of, maybe you want ₱50,000 and you’re able to get something like ₱25,000 or ₱20,000, be content. Do not allow your greed to run away with all the alam mo na, kalokohan.”

This is still consistent with his pronouncement in his last State of the Nation Address, where he encouraged the public to create a scene when a government employee would demand bribes from them.

Duterte is known for thinking—and acting—outside the box, and is brazen enough to challenge conventional governance to accomplish his goals through his political will.

He assured the policemen that he will not sanction those that will accept gifts from generous people recognizing their efforts because it is not bribery. 

“It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law,” said Duterte, who previously worked as a prosecutor.

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