PNP chief denies ‘cover-up’ in ₱6.7B shabu haul arrest

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) — The country’s police chief maintained there was no attempt to cover up the arrest of a police officer during a multibillion-peso drug bust, saying Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos may have been fed with “misinformation to cast doubt on the integrity” of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Contrary to what many of our critics say, let me also categorically say that there was no attempt to cover up or to exculpate Police Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo from his involvement in the illegal drug operations,” PNP chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said in a press briefing on Monday.

This was the first time Azurin publicly responded to Abalos’ allegations last week against several high-ranking police officials. 

Azurin said that while he joins the Interior Secretary in his fight against erring police officers, it is important to have enough evidence to support one’s claims.

“It’s very unfair because we are accusing generals,” Azurin said. “Ano pong ebidensya natin? [What is our evidence?]”

“Let us show proof before we even accuse,” he added.

Presenting CCTV footage of the Oct. 8 anti-drug operation in Tondo, Abalos claimed that officials may have attempted to cover up the arrest of Mayo, an anti-narcotics officer, following the confiscation of ₱6.7-billion worth of shabu from his property.

The video showed how Mayo was handcuffed then uncuffed multiple times. Abalos said this showed a different story compared with the narration of events contained in the PNP reports.

Some of those implicated have strongly denied involvement in the alleged cover-up. One of them also lamented how his name was dragged into the scandal “due to a simple appearance in CCTV footage that has no context or even weight in the proper fora.” 

While Azurin admitted there are scalawags in the 228,000-strong police force, he maintained they only make up a small percentage.

He also urged Abalos to take a second look at those who may be providing him with false information to “blindside” him and damage the reputation of the PNP.

“Sometimes, tignan din natin [let’s check]. Baka [Perhaps] we are being used, misused and abused,” the PNP chief said.