Rivalry of criminal and corruption syndicates in the AFP and PNP

This article is available in PilipinoBisaya

The stench of the padrino system, corruption and criminality pervades in the Armed Forces the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Generals and their cliques are openly elbowing each other for control of billions of funds reserved for the AFP’s modernization and counterinsurgency campaign. Yesterday, January 6, the news story broke out that Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro has been removed as AFP chief and Gen. Andres Centino who once served as chief from November 12, 2021 to August 8, 2022, has been reappointed.

According to a law passed in 2021, Bacarro should serve a 3-year term. This was set to avoid the “revolving door” policy of AFP chiefs that has been used by previous regimes to reward their most loyal generals.

Bigger still is the maneuvering in the PNP among those in power for control of the big drug syndicates and other criminal operations that are under the protection or directly operated by top police officials. On January 4, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered all general and colonels in the AFP to submit their “courtesy resignation,” including its chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin. The resignation can be accepted or rejected depending on the “review” of a committee. This purportedly aims to rid the PNP of officers involved in drugs. Benjamin Abalos, secretary of the DILG, admitted that the criminality was a deep problem among the police.

It is presposterous that the state is serious about purging the PNP of syndicates involved in illegal drugs and other crimes. In fact, Abalos admitted that this was a “shortcut” to avoid the “long” judicial process of putting to trial corrupt police officers. The temporary resignations will not be immediately acted upon, even as the generals and colonels will remain in their positions while the DILG conducts its investigation.

Human rights groups dismissed the step as a mere show to give police involved in criminals syndicates a chance to elude justice. It aims to cover-up the widespread involvement of police in criminal activities and avoid criticism especially of the sham drug war that started during the Duterte regime and continues today under the Marcos regime.

Rivalry of criminal and corruption syndicates in the AFP and PNP