Manila, July 23, 2003 MALAYA Editorial - WITH every senior police official's attention focused on watching his back, no wonder the campaign against criminality is going nowhere.

The escape of Indonesian terrorist Fathur Al-Ghozi just exposed the rot that has long been eating the vitals of the PNP. Police corruption and incompetence is legendary. Syndicated crime is on the upsurge because of police pretection enjoyed, by drug, bank-robbery, kidnapping and carnapping groups. Street crimes are also spreading because the cops on the ground seek to replicate in their petty way the big-time racket of their superiors.

Factionalism in the PNP - and also in the AFP - is not news. PMA graduates versus integrees. One PMA class against another. This politically connected clique against another. The rivalries have long been kept away from the public eye.

The silver lining in the Al-Ghozi escape is that the people are starting to get a glimpse into how the police operate, how the mentality of senior officials work, how an investigation of the biggest fiasco in the PNP in years is being turned into another political witchhunt and, not the least, how Malacaņang appears to be clueless as to how to rein in a runaway organization.

Chief Supt. Eduardo Matillano, the chief investigator into how Al-Ghozi escaped, came to head the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on the strength of a single qualification: his long-running personal war with Sen. Panfilo Lacson. He has absolutely no background in criminal investigation.

Now, it is clear he is more interested in running after officers he perceives as loyal to Lacson than going to the bottom of the Al-Ghozi escape.

It would be interesting to know how many more officers are not qualified to join the CIDG. At the Intelligence Group, newly designated caretaker Chief Supt. Arturo Lomibao sent packing 90 unqualified and inefficient officers. The PNP leadership should make a similar housecleaning at the CIDG.

And while the leadership is at it, it should do an honest-to-goodness review of high-level appointments to the staff, operating and territorial units.

That is assuming, of course, that Crame can summon enough courage to sweep away the boys of Gloria and Mike Arroyo.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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