PDEA Chief forcibly takes back police escorts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) — The anti-narcotics chief took matters into his own hands for his safety.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Aaron Aquino on Monday said he took back his security escorts from the Philippine National Police (PNP) after receiving a go signal from President Rodrigo Duterte.

"I pulled them out last September 26 by force," he said in a text message to CNN Philippines.

Aquino said he took back all 15 police escorts withdrawn by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Luzon, supposedly in preparation for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games beginning on November 30.

Aquino questioned why he was "singled out" by PNP following his exposé this month that recycling of illegal drugs seized during buy-bust operations is still rampant in the police force.

"Personally, I am wondering why my security detail appears to be singled out. While all other security detail were allowed to report back to their VIP assignments after accounting by PNP. Mine were given different duty assignments, despite appeals to Regional Director of PRO3 due to the high risk of my death threats and that of my family," he said in a statement on Monday.

PNP chief General Albayalde on Monday denied Aquino's security escorts were withdrawn because of his revelations on "ninja cops."

"None, of course, none. Nag-usap kami ni Director General Aquino. In fairness naman sa kaniya, sabi niya (In fairness to him, he said) it has nothing to do with that," he said in a chance interview in Silang, Cavite.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, meanwhile, believes there was a misunderstanding or "tampuhan" between Albayalde and Aquino.

"I don’t think there's a problem. May tampuhan lang konti. [Just a small bump.] No choice but to work together, it's just one law enforcement community. There were just misgivings," he told CNN Philippines' The Source.

In violation of the Alunan Doctrine?

Despite police insistence that the recall was due to the regional sports event to be held in the country, Albayalde questioned the number of security escorts given to Aquino.

He reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered to uphold the Alunan Doctrine, which limits the number of a politician's armed guards. It considers two or more armed men as a private army that should be disarmed by the government. He said there are no exceptions to the rule, regardless of the fact that Aquino is a Director General (DG).

"With other VIPs, we are very strict in implementing the Alunan Doctrine. But ito (with this) we are extending courtesy dahil alam din natin ang kalagayan ng DG ng PDEA. Hindi normal 'yon. Kasi ang normal is 2 taslaga, that is what's allowed by the Alunan Doctrine. Kahit na nag-RD ka, chief PNP ka," he said.

[Translation: With other VIPs, we are very strict in implementing the Alunan Doctrine. But now we are extending the courtesy because we know the situation of the PDEA DG. The number of his escorts is not normal. Normally it's just two, because that is what's allowed under the doctrine, regardless if you're a regional director or a PNP chief.]

Albayalde said he has ordered Aquino to have four temporary escorts for 30 days.