World

Corrupt Manila cops transferred, not sacked

MANILA: Three Philippine policemen charged with robbery and extortion have been transferred instead of suspended or sacked, authorities said yesterday, fuelling concerns about immunity for rogue officers prosecuting President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.

The announcement of the trio's punishment came as a Senate inquiry began into the alleged murder of a South Korean businessman by anti-drug police officers who extorted money from his wife.

Critics of Mr Duterte's drug war, which has claimed more than 6,000 lives, say he has emboldened corrupt officers with his pledges of protection to the police.

Mr Duterte personally ordered the three officers, accused of extorting a mother and son of 120,000 pesos (S$3,400) last week in Manila, to the violence-plagued south of the country, a police statement said yesterday.

Mr Duterte had previously vowed to transfer corrupt policemen to a region in the strife-torn southern Philippines, where security forces are battling militant groups, leading to protests from the local authorities.

Mr Mujiv Hataman, the regional governor said: "Erring law enforcers must be held accountable. Sending them to the (region) is not a disciplinary action. It portrays our region as undeserving of dignified and dedicated public service."

Critics fear corrupt officers are using the anti-drug campaign as cover for their own rackets. Mr Duterte said this week he would tolerate them earning "sideline" money, a euphemism for corrupt activities, as long as it did not involve drugs.

National police chief Ronald Dela Rosa told the Senate inquiry yesterday that one officer accused of killing the South Korean businessman was suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of a woman in 2007.

"How can an officer with allegations of that sort be assigned to units like the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group?" asked a senator. - AFP

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