Branded by President Rodrigo Duterte as a corrupt agency, it seems the Philippine National Police (PNP) has still yet to get his message even as it was delivered loud and clear.
And for its planned purchase of overpriced speed guns for traffic management, the Chief Executive yesterday stripped the PNP of its power to purchase its own equipment as its latest infraction added to the long line of cases that tainted the police force.
Mr. Duterte also ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to take over the procurement function of the PNP, which in recent months had faced allegations of protecting ninja cops or police officials who resold confiscated drugs from dealers.
Several cops have also been accused of switching suspects to allow the escape of the guilty parties from prosecution.
In a speech on Wednesday during his visit at the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), the Commander-in-Chief disclosed noticing an enormous overpricing of speed guns being proposed by the PNP.
He compared prices with the Davao City government’s recent procurement of the same gadgets.
Mr. Duterte said that the PNP price for each speed gun was P950,000 when Mayor Sara Duterte managed to acquire it for just P10,000 each.
“I called Secretary Año and I said ‘do not allow the police to procure. Your office should now procure. There are many good generals who are retiring,” Mr. Duterte related.
The President said that he learned of the supposed enormous overpricing after being alerted by the intelligence officials on Monday night following a command conference.
“The intelligence noticed that the traffic radar was P950,000, close to a million. I though it was for the whole gamut of… but it turned out, it’s only for one,” the President said.
“So, the intelligence called out because in Davao we purchased speed gun. It was Inday (Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte) who bought, it was only P10,000,” he added.
In an ambush interview, the President warned other government agencies or offices that he will suffer the same fate if they involve themselves in corruption.
He also did not discount the possibility of establishing a Bureau of Supply where all procurement transactions will be conducted.
“It’s a warning to all offices. If you will keep on f—— the people’s money, I will remove the procurement powers from you. I will take charge,” the President stressed.
“I will establish a (bureau), like the one during the Marcos time. There was this Bureau of Supply. My father was one of the Cabinet members, the Department of General Services was the one handling procurement. It was placed under my father,” he added.
Under his vision of the bureau, all government procurement would be made by the agency — from tractors to airplanes
Despite clipping the PNP’s procurement power, the President maintained that he still “loves” the police organization.
“I love the police. But the problem is that there are really scalawags from within. I maybe wrong but certainly P950,000 for just one radar traffic? B— s—,” the President said.
“On my part, whatever you will ask for, if it’s legal I will give it. I have no problem with that,” he added.
This was not the first time that the President publicly expressed his disapproval of the PNP. The Chief Executive has previously tagged several generals as involved in the illegal drug trade.
The President was also disappointed after former PNP chief Oscar Albayalde was linked during a Senate hearing to the so-called ninja cops.
Mr. Duterte is yet to appoint a permanent chief PNP after Albayalde’s forced resignation, a week before his scheduled retirement last November.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesman Salvador Panelo disclosed that an investigation on the alleged overpricing is coming.
“I suppose it goes without saying, when there is an anomaly, the investigation should be forthcoming,” said Panelo.
Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa remains an officer-in-charge up to now.
Meanwhile, PNP high command on Tuesday maintained that it respects the President’s decision to strip it of procurement power and let the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) handle all future acquisitions.
“The Philippine National Police, under Officer-in-Charge, PLt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, respects and abides by the decision of the President to remove procurement of equipment as one of our administrative functions,” PNP spokesman PBrig. Gen. Bernard Banac said during a press briefing in Camp Crame.
“We will endeavor to work this out in accord with our own procurement rules and systems specified by law,” he added,
Banac went on by saying that the PNP has already forwarded its explanation to Año regarding the so-called overvalued speed guns and that the organization is now leaving it up to the President “to consider and appreciate.”
Banac, however, implied that Mr. Duterte may have been misinformed of the specifics of the traffic radars the police are planning to purchase and insisted they are different from those now being used in Davao City.
“Actually, that wasn’t what we were referring to — the ordinary speed gun which probably costs only P10,000,” stated Banac.
“The proposal of the PNP was actually for a micro digital camera system and its price is not yet final because it still hasn’t gone through bidding. So, there was no submission of bids from different proponents. That wasn’t the final proposal,” he added.
This is not the first time the police has found itself in the center of a controversy over its capability-building efforts.
Last November, Gamboa disclosed the axing of three officers from the PNP bids and awards committee for allegedly attempting to extort P5-million from one of the proponents bidding for P330-million body camera project of the police.
In the works since 2017, then under former police chief and now Sen. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, the PNP finally awarded the P288-million contract to EVI Distribution, a San Juan City-based company in December.
with Kristina Maralit