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When the police is ‘The Syndicate’

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LAST Monday, April 24, 2023, the country watched the assumption of P/MGen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., as the 30th Director General (Chief PNP) of the Philippine National Police and the second to be appointed to that exalted post by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., after P/Gen. Rodoldo Azurin Jr.

Acorda takes over the daunting task of “restoring”—for the nth time, we should add—the credibility of our national police organization over the mess and scandals left behind by Azurin, particularly the continuing involvement of both high-ranking and low-ranking policemen in criminal activities, mainly, in illegal drugs.

Indeed, the police coverup of the fake “drug bust” last October 2022 in Manila involving a police master sergeant and 990 kilos of drugs (that later turn out to be over a ton, actually) worth more than P6 billion, made one realized that in sum, even the ‘War on Drugs’ campaign of the Duterte administration, no matter how well-meaning and all-encompassing and covering the entirety of its 6-years term, has failed.

And why would it not? How can a campaign carried out seriously and earnestly by very few public servants, we now realized, succeed when the organization mainly in charge of its implementation, the PNP, is littered with drug syndicate protectors and benefactors occupying high positions?

In a way, the menace of illegal drugs thru their protectors in uniform can be likened to the menace to our health and life posed by the COVID-19 virus. They lie low, they hibernate, they mutate, grow in strength and influence due to promotions, and then strike again whenever there is an opportunity.

In other words, during the six years when the Duterte administration is hunting down drug personalities and their protectors in uniform, they simply lied low and is now staging a comeback knowing most of them are now in position to fake an accomplishment and control the narrative afterwards.

We would like to believe that in the six years under Pres. Duterte, majority of Filipinos have wizened to the evil of illegal drugs, to its corrosive effect not only on health and peace and order but on one’s moral integrity, especially those in law enforcement.

This continuing war on illegal drugs cannot be won no matter how we try if the moral fibers of the police and other law enforcers are the first to be corroded and corrupted along the way. When law enforcers become willing law breakers for the sake of money, what then?

In his speech Chief PNP Acorda said he would continue the “cleansing” of the ranks of the PNP from those involved in crimes especially those involved in illegal drugs.

But considering he only has until December before he is replaced and considering the complexity and myriads of problems within the PNP, we can only wish well. And we would not be disappointed too if, like Azurin, he turns in a dismal performance.

Simply put, his time is too short and yes, he is surrounded by fellow officers whose true loyalty, we now realized, is to someone or somebody else and who only want “cosmetic reforms” for the PNP for the sake of publicity.

In other words, when the PNP is ‘The Syndicate’ itself, how does one solve a problem like that?

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