'Respect Purisima's rights despite politically-charged case'

MANILA, Philippines – Neither his rank in the Philippine National Police (PNP) nor the “political” underpinnings of a corruption case filed against Director General Alan Purisima should come in the way of his basic rights.

This was the argument put forward by Purisima’s legal counsel, Kristoffer James Purisima, in explaining why the PNP chief wants a temporary restraining order against a 6-month preventive suspension ordered by the Ombudsman.

“Just because this is a politically charged case, it doesn't mean that the rights of the PNP chief are lessened,” Attorney Purisima, a distant relative of the PNP chief, told reporters in a Wednesday, December 10, briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The Ombudsman on Thursday, December 4, ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to suspend Purisima for 6 months without pay as it continues its investigation into an allegedly anomalous deal between the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) and courier company Werfast.

Napolcom, not DILG

The DILG served the order on Tuesday, December 9, through a notice signed by DILG Undersecretary Edwin Enrile.

But Purisima’s camp insists the DILG does not have the right to suspend Purisima, since it is the National Police Commission (Napolcom) that has administrative control over the national police force.

Roxas, who is still leading national government’s post-Typhoon Ruby assessment relief operations, insisted it was perfectly legal for the DILG to serve the suspension.

Attorney Purisima said the PNP chief was not “defying” the order of the Ombudsman.

“What we’re saying is that Napolcom should be the one implementing the order. It’s clear in our Constitution and [several laws] that the PNP is under the administrative control of the Napolcom,” he said.

The PNP chief’s lawyer added that Roxas himself, and not a mere undersecretary of the DILG, should have been the signatory to the suspension order. Roxas and Purisima’s differences are no secret in Camp Crame.

But even if the Ombudsman or the Napolcom accedes to Purisima’s request to bar the DILG from implementing the order, Attorney Purisima said they will not stop their motion asking for a TRO.

Legal tactics?

Reacting to an earlier statement made by Roxas that questioning the DILG’s jurisdiction was a mere “tactic,” Attorney Purisima said “the PNP chief is entitled to all legal remedies under the law and the rules of court.”

Preventive suspensions are meted against government officials to prevent them from using their position to meddle with the investigation of the Ombudsman.

Another basis for preventive suspensions is when evidence against the accused is deemed strong, Purisima’s lawyer earlier said.

He said it was not necessary to preemptively suspend the PNP chief since “the investigation is with the Ombudsman and not the PNP.”

“The PNP chief would not have control over the investigation,” Attorney Purisima insisted. As PNP chief, Purisima oversees the entire 150,000-strong national police force, including the Civil Security Group and the FEO. – Rappler.com