Retired and active police and military officers are disappointed over the "kid glove" treatment of Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ricardo Marquez on four generals who reportedly met with individuals identified with Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas.
Tribune sources, who requested anonymity, said Marquez should have immediately ordered the administrative relief of Director Generoso Cerbo Jr. and Chief Superintendents Renier Idio, Bernardo Diaz and Ronald Santos after they were spotted with retired PNP Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr. at Novotel in Quezon City last Saturday.
"Garbo is identified with the LP and is openly supporting Roxas, meeting with him at this time is inappropriate for the four police generals," a retired general told the Tribune.
"It is easy to say that the meeting was personal, but they should all be aware this is election time nobody will believe that they did not discuss election issues even in the barber shop, that's the hot topic today," he added.
Marquez said unless a formal complaint with solid evidence is presented against his officers, he will give them the benefit of the doubt and will not relieve them.
"If somebody can tell me they were talking about politics in that meeting, I will relieve them," Marquez said, despite the fact that a staff of Roxas was in that meeting.
"If there are complaints my officers were there to discuss partisanship, to discuss how certain politicians could be provided with anything so that they will win then we will relieve our officers," he added.
But the retired general stressed "for the sake of the entire police organization, the chief PNP should act decisively against these generals to keep the organization apolitical."
Cerbo is the chief of the PNP-Directorate for Intelligence while Idio is the director of the Cagayan Valley police. Santos is the deputy regional director for administration of the Southern Tagalog police and Diaz of the Western Visayas police.
The four, wearing civilian clothes, were reportedly spotted at the Novotel at the Araneta Center in Quezon City last Saturday, along with retired PNP Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr. and Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, Inspector General of the Armed Frces of the Philippines (AFP).
Garbo is identified with the LP and is reportedly supporting the presidential bid of Roxas.
Also reportedly present during the meeting was a certain Thea Reyes, who is supposedly a staff Roxas.
The source noted that to erase any doubts on the four generals, Marquez should have ordered their administrative relief and called for an investigation.
"Instead of just taking their explanation, the chief PNP should have called for a probe to douse any doubts against the officers," the source added.
Another source, a Camp Crame-based official, noted that the four involved PNP generals are all members of the Philippine Military Academy "Maharlika" Class of 1984, which has Roxas as honorary member.
"They are mistahs of Roxas and they were talking with Garbo who is identified with the Liberal Party and Roxas. What will they talk about?" the second source asked.
"While we are giving them the benefit of the doubt, it would be proper for them to be administratively relieved to insulate the entire PNP organization from partisan politicis," he added.
In Calaca, Batangas - LP standard bearer Roxas was practically caught with his pants down on his alleged collusion with police generals in carrying out his presidential campaign.
Vice presidential candidate Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero made this claim yesterday following reports on the alleged attendance of some active Philippine National Police (PNP) generals in an LP meeting in a hotel in Cubao, Quezon City last weekend.
Escudero said the incident practically confirmed reports coming their way that Roxas has been in close coordination with PNP officials in most of the LP's sorties.
"We have heard of this a long time and that he is recruiting active and retired generals of the PNP. It is just now that they have been caught. Perhaps, they were caught in camera and photographs at the hotel, "he said in an interview with reporters.
As such, Escudero said they will be filing a formal complaint against some active PNP officials and slap them with electioneering and partisan political activity charges.
Escudero is not inclined to believe in the alibi given by concerned PNP officials identified as Dir. Generoso Cerbo Jr., chief of the PNP directorate for intelligence and Chief Supts. Rainer Idio, Bernardo Diaz and Ronald Santos that it was just a chance encounter with a staff of Roxas at the Novotel Hotel.
"That is considered an election offense," Escudero said.
As of this writing, the senator said he has already asked their lawyers to draft the complaint notwithstanding the immediate and proper action from Marquez as the PNP chief himself publicly assured when the issue first came out nearly a week ago.
Escudero said it was "not proper and highly irregular" for said PNP officials to meet with the LP campaign officers, especially since active police personnel are barred from participating, directly or indirectly, in partisan politics or electioneering.
He said the Partido Galing at Puso will file a formal complaint against the erring police officials before the office of PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez.
Roxas had explained that his staff met with the embattled PNP officials by chance and merely had social conversations since they previously worked together at the DILG.
Also yesterday, Escudero condemned the reported disruption of some unidentified armed men in a political gathering held by Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Sorsogon last April 1.
"I seek the immediate investigation by the PNP of this incident to ensure that candidates running for various elective posts and their supporters are safe and secure to campaign during this election season," he said.
"Such attempts to coerce and intimidate candidates and the electorate, particularly with the use of high-powered guns, have no place in a democratic country like ours. I hope this incident will not be used by our political rivals to promote unfair and untrue attacks against us by confusing and distracting voters in order to advance their political bids," he said.
The voting public, Escudero said, should be allowed to exercise their rights to freely choose the candidates they want to elect in the coming May 9 national and local elections.