BUSAN, South Korea — President Benigno S. Aquino III has agreed that embattled Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Alan Purisima should accept the preventive suspension order issued against him and 11 other PNP officials by the Ombudsman.
During his traditional coffee meeting with the Philippine media delegation here on Friday, the President said that while the PNP Chief has to follow the rule of law, he should also be accorded all the legal rights due him to defend himself.
“Bottom line is, there is an order from the Ombudsman, he will have to undergo the processes and one of them is this preventive suspension, and the other aspect is, like any other citizen, he has the right to defend himself,” President Aquino said.
With General Purisima’s absence, he said Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, who has been designated as Officer-in-Charge, should lead the 150,000 strong PNP.
“Having a concept of OIC or not, he is the head at this point in time. If somebody does not follow him, that person gets removed,” the Chief Executive said.
He however related that he is already looking for a permanent successor to the embattled PNP Chief as General Espina is also set to retire soon.
“General Espina will not be in the service that much longer. And General Purisima will reach 56 by 2015. So with or without the issue, we are also searching. We will look at the track record of all contenders,” President Aquino said.
Senate President Franklin Drilon earlier urged the President to decide on the fate of Purisima, worrying about the limited powers of an OIC, considering the forthcoming two major events in the Philippines — the Papal visit and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) activities next year.
The President, meanwhile, said Purisima’s suspension should not affect the entire PNP institution and every police officer should follow the instructions of the Officer-in-Charge.
The Ombudsman has ordered the suspension of Purisima for six months over an alleged anomalous courier service contract for the delivery of gun licenses back in 2011.