SORRY, NOT SORRY Police Major General Guillermo Eleazar, NCRPO director (seated, second from left), defends his manhandling of a policeman accused of extortion even as he presents seven other policemen—members of the Las Piñas police antinarcotics unit—facing similar charges on Thursday (See story below). —EARVIN PERIAS
Police Major General Guillermo Eleazar, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, on Thursday told reporters that while he had apologized to the public for his “emotional outburst brought [about] by frustration,” he did not regret what he did to a policeman accused of robbery-extortion.
He also welcomed President Duterte’s statement of support for him.
“[It] shows the consistency of our President—how he abhors policemen involved in the illegal drug trade and policemen taking advantage of our war against illegal drugs to make money for themselves,” Eleazar said, while presenting more policemen accused of kidnapping and extortion.
No slapping or punching
At the same time, he denied slapping, punching in the chest or pulling the hair of Police Corporal Marlo Quibete.
Eleazar said he only grabbed the policeman by his shirt collar to make him lift his head “because I wanted him to look me in the eye.”
“What do you want me to do with him and other policemen who take advantage of the war [on drugs] to gain an easy life? Treat them like babies?” he asked.
As far as President Duterte was concerned, Eleazar did nothing wrong when he publicly scolded Quibete who had allegedly extorted money from an arrested drug suspect’s partner.
“Sir, please tell Eleazar, that’s OK… Tell him I have his back covered,” Duterte said at the first anniversary of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday night.
Just hours before, Eleazar—while surrounded by the media—had grabbed Quibete by the face, hair and the collar of his shirt, all the while berating him for his alleged illegal activities.
In his speech, the President wondered how many policemen remained true to their profession as law enforcers.
“The police, every day there’s always an idiot,” he said.
Duterte was not the only one to come to the defense of Eleazar.
For Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, whose department has control and supervision over the Philippine National Police, Eleazar’s actions were “simply a manifestation of his frustration over police scalawags in his unit.”
“While General Eleazar has already publicly apologized, his outburst was understandable given the circumstances. It was a classic case of a ‘father losing his cool over his son’s misbehavior’ with the goal of correcting it and sending a message to his other children that bad behavior will not be tolerated in his household,” he said in a statement.
Año also directed the PNP chief, Police General Oscar Albayalde, to further intensify the internal cleansing of the police force to rid it of “undesirables.”
In a TV interview, Albayalde said of Eleazar’s actions: “Sometimes you cannot avoid angry outbursts. It’s just like when you scold your child. This [extortion incident] happened despite our reminders to PNP personnel not to engage in nefarious activities.”
Few bad eggs
He maintained that there were only a few scalawags in the PNP’s ranks although their misdeeds reflected badly on the entire organization.
Albayalde claimed that he might have done the same or even worse if he were in Eleazar’s shoes.
He said that the NCRPO chief’s outburst was made in front of the media “as a way to show the public, particularly policemen, that this leadership is serious.” —WITH A REPORT FROM CHRISTINE O. AVENDANO
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