'Not all rich cops are corrupt'

MANILA, Philippines - Not all policemen who drive nice cars are corrupt.

The newly appointed commander of the La Loma police station in Quezon City gave this opinion when asked for his reaction to the news that one of his men who were linked to the Sept. 1 robbery-abduction case was a millionaire.

According to Supt. Dionisio Bartolome, "policemen aren't barred from being well-to-do."

It was earlier reported that the head of the police station's investigation and intelligence branch, Senior Insp. Oliver Villanueva, declared a net worth of P6.5 million (S$619,884) last year with P8.1 million in assets. His gross income was P605,133 in 2012.

Villanueva was tagged as the mastermind in the kidnapping of two men on Edsa with nine other policemen-seven of them from the La Loma police station-said to be his accomplices.

The victims were then carrying P2 million in cash for the purchase of heavy equipment in Subic. They claimed that they were taken to the La Loma police station where the money was seized from them.

"My personal opinion is there's nothing wrong if policemen become rich. What bars them from buying a new car with their earnings? They may have other sources of income. They can invest. They can lend out money," Bartolome said.

"Policemen aren't barred from being well-to-do. We have police officers who are already rich, whose parents own a shipping firm or businesses. I don't know why they choose to be police officers. But it doesn't mean that if a police officer gets ahead in life, he did it through corrupt means," he added.

Bartolome, however, said that a lifestyle check was part of the "general investigation" being conducted on the seven police officers implicated in the Sept. 1 case.

"In due time, we'll release the results [of our investigation]," he told the Inquirer.

He pointed out that when public servants, including police officers, submit their annual statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, the Ombudsman is furnished a copy for easy reference in case of administrative complaints.

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