Philippine police ‘like Capone-era cops’
September 9, 2011
MANILA – US diplomats thought Philippine police to be as corrupt as Chicago cops in the Al Capone era who tortured, extorted and even murdered suspected criminals, according to a leaked embassy cable.
The 2005 cable , sent apparently by the then number two at the US embassy in Manila, outlined in colourful language what it said was “endemic” corruption within the 117,000-member Philippine police force.
“Mission observers compare the PNP (Philippine National Police) to police forces in Al Capone’s Chicago, or 1940s ‘LA Confidential’ Los Angeles,” said the cable published by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks
“Apart from corruption, many cops undertake investigative short cuts that often employ physical abuse, the planting of evidence, and sometimes — allegedly under guidance from local elected officials — the extra-judicial killing of criminal suspects.”
Al Capone gained notoriety in the US for his involvement in gambling, prostitution and bootlegging rackets in Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s.
The Oscar-winning 1997 Hollywood film “LA Confidential”, starring Russell Crowe, portrayed police corruption in Los Angeles in the 1950s.
Among the many specific examples of alleged corruption by Philippine police, the WikiLeaks cable said officers regularly stole money meant for training and salaries.
Police trainers also extorted money from recruits while other officers pressured businessmen to fork out money to put petrol in their patrol vehicles, the cable said.
In one case, an agent with the National Bureau of Investigation went into swindling, extortion, and kidnappings while being helped and protected by Manila police officers, according to the cable.
The leaked cable was signed and written by “Mussomeli”. Joseph Mussomeli was the number of two at the embassy at the time, and is now the US ambassador to Slovenia, according to a US government website.
When asked for comment about the cable, the Philippine national police spokesman Agrimero Cruz said the “situation” was not the same as it was in 2005.
“A lot of improvements have been made over the years along the area of reforms in systems and procedures,” Cruz told AFP via text message.
The US embassy in Manila has refused to comment on a plethora of its cables released by WikiLeaks in recent weeks, some of which have irritated the Philippine government.
The Philippine foreign minister last week slammed a former US ambassador as a “dismal failure” in reaction to one cable she apparently wrote criticising a revered democracy heroine. (Agence France-Presse)