The National Police's Internal Affairs Division has been investigating several senior officers allegedly involved in "secret cooperations" with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) that lead to the antigraft body naming National Police chief candidate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan a graft suspect.
This development is the latest twist in the escalating conflict between the police and the KPK amid President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's failure to provide a decisive solution.
Newly inaugurated National Police detective division chief Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso, a confidant of Budi Gunawan, admitted that he ordered internal affairs to launch an investigation after making a controversial remark last month that there were "traitors" within the National Police.
"I am accountable for what I said. Now let's just wait for [the results of] the investigation," Budi Waseso said recently.
The police, however, have been tight-lipped on the details of the internal investigation.
Several sources said the National Police's economic and special crimes director Brig. Gen. Kamil Razak, along with two middle-ranking officers known by initials Sr. Comr. M and Adj. Sr. Comr. T, were among the top suspects investigated.
Internal affairs also targeted former chief detective Comr. Gen. Suhardi Alius, who previously led a series of reforms in the division.
Coincidentally, the division is headed by Budi Gunawan's close associate, Insp. Gen. Syafruddin, who is also close to Budi's supporter, Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
Budi's supporters believe the KPK's move against him is related to an ongoing rivalry involving high-ranking generals, centred on the competition for the force's top job. Suhardi was also a strong contender.
Suhardi, Razak and Syafruddin did not respond to The Jakarta Post's phone calls and text messages.
National Police chief spokesman Insp. Gen. Ronny Sompie confirmed that internal affairs had launched the investigation, but refused to elaborate.
"I haven't received detailed information from [internal affairs] regarding the investigated officers and the charges," he said recently.
Edi Hasibuan, a member of the National Police Commission, said he regretted the move.
"What we need now is wisdom from police leaders who will prevent the situation from worsening," he said, adding that the move could instead divide the force even more.
A number of retired police generals acknowledged that frictions within the force had been visible since Jokowi planned to replace then National Police chief Gen. Sutarman before his scheduled retirement.
"It is very strange for the KPK to name Budi a suspect considering he had never been questioned before. Not to mention the timing, which inevitably prompted suspicions that the investigation had something to do with Budi's nomination," Insp. Gen. (ret.) Sisno Adiwinoto said.
Under the leadership of Sutarman and Suhardi, the National Police, particularly its detective division, cooperated with the KPK on numerous occasions. In August last year, for example, the National Police and the KPK signed an agreement allowing the two institutions to clamp down on gratuities received by police officers.
"This cooperation will give a much-needed boost to the police's efforts in improving their professionalism and transparency," Sutarman said at the time, adding that it was the first step toward eradicating corruption within the force.
Although he was not set to retire until October, Sutarman was dismissed by Jokowi days after the KPK announced that Budi was a graft suspect on Jan. 13.
Suhardi was stripped of his position earlier and was transferred to the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) in a less prestigious position.