Hayaan ninyong simulan ko ang aking maigsing mensahe sa pamamagitan ng pagbahagi ng mga salita ng pinakamayamang tao sa mundo sa kasalukuyan. Ayon kay Bill Gates: “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
Today, speaking before the PNP’s primary arm against kidnap-for- ransom gangs almost instinctively strikes sentimentality from reflections of decades ago.
My nostalgia brought me back to the early years of my career where the fight against criminality, particularly (the) rampant kidnapping menace, was the nation’s outcry. I was a young Philippine Constabulary lieutenant colonel back in 1981 when the eldest daughter of business tycoon John Gokongwei Jr., namely Robina Gokongwei, together with her cousin Celina Ngochua, were kidnapped along P. Tuazon Blvd., Quezon City while on their way to school.
Our carefully planned-out covert and overt operations led to the successful rescue of Robina and her cousin in Quirino Avenue in the City of Manila. It likewise resulted in the arrest of the suspects, Bayani Lasian and Arturo Sarabia, together with four other identified collaborators, including the mastermind. From the day we rescued her and up to this day, Ms. Gokongwei has remained to be one of my good friends and no- nonsense supporters.
Maybe it is worth mentioning here that Mr. John Gokongwei personally offered me a hefty sum, at least during the time, of P500,000, which of course I politely declined. For saving Robina and Celina from their abductors unscathed, and their family from P10 million in ransom money which was never paid, as we beat the payoff with the timely rescue of the victims.
In 1992, after newly elected President Fidel Valdez Ramos assigned then Vice President Joseph Estrada as chairman of the defunct Presidential Anti-Crime Commission, I was recruited to head Task Force Habagat to combat the kidnapping scourge that was gripping the country. At the PACC, it is a matter of public record that we scored high in our anti-crime efforts. In less than a year, we brought down an alarmingly high incidence of kidnap-for- ransom cases to zero. Literally, zero.
This was highlighted by the neutralization of the country’s most wanted criminal at the time, Alfredo “Joey” de Leon, leader of the Red Scorpion Group, which was also labeled then as Public Enemy No. 1 because of his group’s infuriating attacks against rich businessmen and their families.
Contrary to what is portrayed in movies, at alam ni CPNP Ronald dela Rosa and AKG acting director S/Supt Glenn Dumlao ito, hindi ganoon kadali makibaka sa criminal syndicates. Successful police operations are always a by-product of meticulous and sleepless nights of systematic and methodical intelligence gathering methods, proper coordination with necessary units, and sound strategic management. Not to mention putting our lives at risk all the time as well as those of our police operatives.
Madali lamang para sa mga pumupuna at nagbibintang sa trabaho ng pulis, lalo na at may napapatay na kriminal sa mga police operations. Akala nila, parang sa mga pelikula na kailangang maunang magpabaril ang bidang pulis, iilag, magpapagulong-gulong saka gaganti ng putok, at mapatay ang kontrabidang kidnapper.
I remember whenever I conducted pre-ops briefings prior to jumpoff especially in connection with KFR rescue operations, I would always remind my men this: When you order your quarries to surrender and you see barrels of their guns instead of raised arms, don’t hesitate. Shoot, stupid. Higit na mas mainam na buhay kayo kahit may hinaharap na kaso, kesa na nakahiga kayo sa loob ng kabao at pinaguusapan ng inyong kasamahan na parang natutulog lang, kasi nga patulog-tulog at di naipagtanggol ang inyong sarili o ang inyong kasamahan.
Twenty-four years have passed. We ask ourselves how we have progressed in our conduct of all-out and sustained operations against kidnap-for- ransom groups and personalities.
Nakakadismayang isipin na sa kasalukuyan, tila umuusbong na naman mga organized crime groups o OCGs sa kidnapping. Ang mas nakakapanlumo at lalo pang nakakainit ng ulo ay may mga kabilang sa hanay ng kapulisan na mga nadadawit, kung hindi man, siya pang mastermind ng mga krimen.
Ang isa sa mga pinakabagong isyu, at marahil ang pinaka-kontrobersyal sa lahat, ay ang pag-kidnap at pagpatay sa Korean businessman na si Jee Ick Joo, dito mismo sa loob ng Camp Crame at kinasasanguktan ng pulis na itinalaga para mag-alaga sa kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan, sampu ng mga dayuhang namumuhunan o namamalagi sa ating bansa. Kasabay ng imbestigasyon ng Committee ng Public Order and Dangerous Drugs sa Senado upang mapagbigay sa aming mga mambabatas ng dagdag kaalaman kung paano mabibigyan lunas sa pamamagitan ng pagbabalangkas ng karagdagng batas, sana ay mabigyan ang din ng AKG ng kumpleto at komprehensibong kalutasan ang krimen na ito, upang mapanagot lahat. And I mean lahat na sangkot at may kinalaman sa kasong ito.
Malaki ang aking pananalig sa inyong mga pinuno lalo na kina CPNP Ronald dela Rosa at Glenn Dumlao, dahil kabisado ko kung paano sila magtrabaho, pati na ang kanilang mga integridad. Hindi sa mga kwento-kwento lamang kundi sa personal kong kaalaman. Probably this is the first time you will hear these stories about Sr Supt Glenn Dumlao. Taong 2013, he led an operation in implementing a search warrant against a suspect in a crime of illegal possession of firearms in my home province in Cavite. Habang iniimbentaryo ang mga kinukumpiskang mga armas, meron ding undetermined large amount of cash one of his operatives took notice of and which he sought Glenn’s guidance as to what to do with it. Without hesitation and in a firm voice, then team leader Glenn Dumlao told his men: “Wala tayong pakialam sa pera. Mga armas ang sadya natin dito. Huwag ninyo gagalawin yan.”
I also cannot forget how he parried and actually resisted the harassment and threats against this person by no less than the DOJ prosecutor assigned to handle the Dacer-Corbito double murder case. The name I think is state prosecutor Hazel Valdez, where Glenn Dumlao was a vital witness. Pinipiplit ni Prosecutor Valdez na baguhin ni Glenn ang kanyang testimonya to the point of committing perjury para lamang madiin ako sa kaso dahil alam nila na hindi uubra ang testimonya ni Cezar Mancao, na alam na natin lahat ngayon based on the CA and SC rulings, ay imbento lamang niya sa dahilang napangakuan siya ng dating administrasyong Arroyo ng kung anu-anong gantimpala para mapagaan ang kanyang buhay sampu ng kanyang pamilya. Di ko pa inaalam kung may permiso o utos or at least imprimatur ng then SOJ now Sen. Leila de Lima ang kilos ni Prosecutor Valdez. Marahil ayaw ko na rin malaman. Suffice it to say, I have forgiven all those who have wronged me and made my life miserable for many long years.
In the words of the late US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy: “Forgive your enemies but don’t forget their names.”
A few months ago, we were all witnesses to the high-reaching momentum that the PNP has gained in its intensified campaign against illegal drugs and criminality. Kasabay nito ay ang pagtaas ng morale ng ating kapulisan. But we have to bear in mind that we can do a thousand good things for others, but people will always remember that single brazen mistake that we have committed. And I tell you, that one brazen mistake leads to widespread public distrust.
Kailangan makita at malaman ng taumbayan na ang ating kapulisan, mula sa pinakamataas na opisyal hanggang sa pinakababang ranggo, ay may kakayahang tanggapin ang responsibilidad ng ahensiya at ang pinakamahalaga sa lahat, may pananagutan sa kani-kanilang mga tungkulin.
Those who have wronged the institution should be held accountable. They deserve nothing less.
Kaya tama lamang ang sinasagawang malawakang paglilinis o internal cleansing ni Chief PNP dela Rosa. Critical ang hakbang na ito upang siguraduhin na nag-iisa lamang ang landas na ating tinatahak sa pagpapatupad ng mga pinaigting na programa kontra-krimen. Kumbaga sa pakikibaka, kailangan nating masiguro na walang maliligaw ng landas sa ating mga kasama sa giyera na ating susuungin.
Sa kabila ng mga iskandalong dumungis sa Philippine National Police bilang institusyon, hindi natin dapat makalimutang nasa simula pa lamang tayo ng ating laban. It is but of utmost conviction that we should strengthen our resolve to fight criminality, set such advocacy not just a mere job for the police nor a concern of a few others, but rather, a collective matter of national interest.
By experience, such endeavor is a challenging task altogether.
To bridge the barrier between the police force and the greater public requires massive reforms anchored on leadership by example. I have always said it is second to none. There is no substitute to it. I have always said and I say it again now, this is precisely the function of leadership – it must provide the intervention to discipline, motivate and inspire those who they lead.
Sa pamamagitan din nito, lalo pa nating mapapatunayang walang lugar ang katiwalian at kapabayaan sa ating unipormadong hanay.
An interesting book about police integrity and ethics written by Dr. Edwin Delattre, a philosopher and educator, stresses and I quote:
“The only thing that is incorruptible is personal character that refuses to be corrupted. An incorruptible person, as Aristotle observed, is truthful in word and deed just because truthfulness has become second nature with him. Such a person, who is truthful even in matters where nothing depends on his veracity will still be more careful of the truth when something does depend on it. A person of incorruptible character has no price.” Again, I wish the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group a meaningful fifth anniversary celebration.
Mabuhay ang PNP!