When President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino forced then-Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Nicanor Bartolome into retirement prior to the 2013 mid-term elections, little did he know that Bartolome’s replacement would also be pressured to retire early in 2014. Yes, the current PNP Chief Alan Purisima is being eased out to make way for his would-be successor to take over in time for the 2016 presidential elections. That was the same reason why Bartolome was pushed out the door; that is, to make way for Deputy Director General Purisima to take over police matters at the soonest to prepare for the May 2013 elections, which makes one wonder: Why was it necessary to elevate Purisima to the top job when P-Noy could have allowed Bartolome to stay on the job until the ban on appointments during the election season had passed, which was just a few weeks after Election Day. Why the rush? Could it be because of Purisima’s close personal relationship with P-Noy while Bartolome’s relationship with P-Noy was purely professional?
It is interesting to note that Purisima’s ties with the Aquinos go back to the time of P-Noy’s late mother and then-President Cory Aquino, whom Purisima served as a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
Friend and protector
But what sealed the strong bond between P-Noy and Purisima was when P-Noy’s vehicle was ambushed near Malacañang on August 28, 1987. It was said that Purisima was part of P-Noy’s security convoy when it was ambushed by rightwing rebels led by then-Colonel (and now-Senator) Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan. Five bullets hit and wounded P-Noy, but three of his bodyguards were killed. And who would have been the “best” replacement for Bartolome but someone whose ties to him were as tight as the Gordian knot? But “best” didn’t necessarily mean possessing unmatched qualifications and unquestioned integrity.
When Purisima started his stint as PNP Chief, he seemed to be doing just fine and staying out of trouble. But barely a year on the job, allegations of irregularities and corruption surfaced. And when pictures of his “vacation house” in Nueva Ecija made it to the front page of major newspapers, all hell broke loose!
Immediately, Purisima’s friend and protector — P-Noy — came to his rescue and vouched for his character, saying that Purisima is “not capricious” despite the so-called “White House” inside the PNP compound where he resides and the pompous “vacation house” in San Leandro, Nueva Ecija and his fleet of expensive cars that he purportedly purchased at a discount. Built on a 4.7-hectare estate, Purisima’s “vacation house” includes a separate pavilion, separate four-car garage with quarters, a huge swimming pool, and luxurious features and amenities. Purisima claimed that his property was valued at P3.7 million as declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN); however, his complainants say that the property’s actual price could be more than P50 million. The question is: How did Purisima amass such wealth when his salary was only P107,000 a month?
In spite of P-Noy’s defense of Purisima, some powerful people want his head chopped. And these are people who belong to P-Noy’s Liberal Party (LP). They want him to retire early to accommodate another member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1981 to which Purisima belongs, which begs the question: Why do they want to get rid of Purisima one and a half years before the 2016 elections? Could it be that his incompetence and expensive lifestyle might hurt the LP during the campaign that they want him out of the limelight?
One of the scandals that is eroding the people’s confidence in the PNP is the widespread “hulidap” cases where an increasing number of police officers are involved in kidnapping for ransom activities. Purisima is perceived to be too lax in stopping these criminal activities in the police force.
Another scandal was the controversial renovation of the “White House,” which is Purisima’s residence inside Camp Crame. What is being questioned was the source of the P25 million Purisima used to upgrade the White House. He claimed that three donors contributed “building materials” while some sources said that Purisima’s fellow Masons donated the money.
But what is not being discussed today is: Who are the government officials – from the President down to the Barangay captains — who are receiving jueteng payolas? One President who had received jueteng payola was former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada who was exposed by his former “bagman,” ex-governor Chavit Singson.
In the early days of P-Noy’s presidency, allegations of jueteng payolas were made against then-Deputy Secretary of Interior and Local Government Rico Puno. The payolas were supposedly for P-Noy; however, Malacañang denied the allegations and that was the end of the controversy. But one thing that happened in P-Noy’s administration was that jueteng thrived. And according to many anti-jueteng activists, the PNP can stop jueteng in a day! But the order must come from the PNP Chief.
While previous PNP chiefs were involved in scandals and controversies over the years, the degree to which they’re linked to criminal activities varies. But in the case of Purisima, in the short time that he’s been PNP Chief, he had waded into the murky waters of corruption. As of today, he’s facing three plunder and graft charges over his luxurious “vacation house” in Nueva Ecija, the questionable renovation of the controversial “White House” inside Camp Crame, and a scandalous deal with a courier service. However, like his predecessors, Purisima would most likely beat the charges against him, which begs the question: How do corrupt PNP officers pay for their betrayal of the public’s trust? As someone once said, “Nothing escapes the Law of Karma. You get from the world what you give to the world.” And thus far, Purisima has gotten a lot from the world but has yet to give back. That’s bad karma.