General who approved demotion for 'ninja cops' is 'demoted' himself

MANILA, Philippines – After figuring in the "agaw-bato" controversy as the general who ordered demotion instead of dismissal for the Pampanga "ninja cops," Major General Amador Corpus got "demoted" himself.

Effective Sunday, October 20, he was plucked from his powerful post as the chief of the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and named acting chief of the paperwork- and meetings-heavy Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development.

As CIDG head, Corpus had supervision over highly trained cops who probed high-profile – even highly political – cases. His new post would confine him to formulation of policies to be taught to aspiring cops and incumbent police personnel who are eligible for promotion.

While both positions carry a two-star rank, Corpus' movement is seen as a step down, especially since he was replaced by his junior in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) who is one rank below him: Brigadier General Joel Napoleon Coronel.

Coronel was also uprooted from his post on Sunday, removed as Central Luzon police chief. But Coronel's movement is seen as a promotion as he is moving from a one-star position to a two-star post at the CIDG.

Corpus belongs to the PMA Sinagtala Class of 1986, while Coronel belongs to the PMA Hinirang Class of 1987. Both are lawyers.

While the CIDG chief post was held by retired general Roel Obusan, both Corpus and Coronel were top contenders for the post. Corpus eventually clinched the position back then.

'Ninja cops' controversy

Corpus figured in the "ninja cops" controversy as the general who approved demotion – instead of the initially recommended dismissal – for the 13 cops implicated in an anomalous 2013 Pampanga anti-drug operation.

In October 2017, while he was still Central Luzon police chief, Corpus modified the penalty for the 13 cops to "one-rank demotion."

This was later questioned at a joint Senate probe on October 1 this year, where Corpus defended his decision by saying that he only followed the recommendation of his legal officer.

Corpus explained that there are two aggravating circumstances (taking advantage of length of service and employment of fraudulent means to commit the offense) and one mitigating circumstance (numerous awards and commendations) which led to a "net of one aggravating circumstance." (READ: 'Spectacle of a grand cover-up': Senate hearing bares how 'ninja cops' remain in service)

As Corpus justified it, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said: "As an ordinary citizen and a lawyer, I could not understand why a penalty of dismissal was lowered to a penalty of demotion.... May tumawag po ba sa inyo na ibaba ang penalty na 'to (Did somebody call you to lower the penalty)?"

Corpus denied he was called by anyone to lower the punishment for the cops. (READ: Albayalde intervened in dismissal of Pampanga 'ninja cops' – PDEA chief)

Corpus is scheduled to retire on October 3, 2020, when he hits the mandatory retirement age of 56. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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