LAST Sunday could be the most unforgettable birthday of PNP chief, General Benjie Acorda as he not only learned of his 4-month extension on that day but he also flew to the bomb-torn Mindanao State University gym to supervise the investigation into the deadly bombing incident, leaving behind his worried family in Manila.
I learned from several highly-informed sources that early Sunday morning, the top cop and his wife were discussing the preparations for a thanksgiving dinner to be hosted by the couple at the PNP Multi-Purpose Center. It was their simple way to celebrate his 56th birthday and thank all officers and men who have supported his stint as PNP chief since last April 24.
However, the top cop’s mood changed when he got the information about the MSU bombing. He did not mince any word in telling his wife he must go to Marawi City and latter understood him.
Shortly after noon Sunday, the PNP chief flew to the area after taking a commercial flight and tapping the help of an Air Force Blackhawk helicopter to bring him to the actual site. He was still in the area before 10 p.m. Sunday and thus, his guests and other visitors at the MPC left without seeing him.
After arriving at Camp Crame way past 12 midnight Sunday, he went straight to the MPC to take a look at the place with only a handful of officers present as well as those cleaning the site. One official told me he was like a little boy wanting to see his party place where the event went through without the celebrator at all.
On Monday, the top cop surprised everybody when he showed up at the flag-raising rites to thank PBBM for his trust and confidence on him. As PNP spokesperson, Colonel Jean Fajardo had said, Gen. Acorda’s presence at their flag-raising rites is ‘already a statement, an indication that his term has been extended.’
The PNP chief later held a short command conference where he thanked his Command Group and all other police generals present for supporting him. He referred to the PNP’s major accomplishment in reducing the country’s crime volume this year to almost 8-9 percent compared to last year’s record, for their success in ensuring a generally peaceful October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, the hosting of the FIBA Basketball World Cup and a recent Asia-Pacific forum. It is also a fact that during the actual BSK polls, there was no declared ‘failure of election’ in any part of the country.
Shortly after noon Monday, the Palace released an official statement regarding PBBM’s decision to extend the term of Gen. Acorda until March 31 next year. The top cop kept mum on the decision of the Commander-in-Chief but I learned that he has been told beforehand by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin about the matter last Sunday.
In a press statement, Palace spokesperson, Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil said the Commander-in-Chief extended Gen. Acorda’s term until March 31, 2024 given that the latter has successfully led the police force since his appointment in April this year.
“I wish to inform you that, pursuant to the provisions of existing laws, your service as Chief (Police General), Philippine National Police, is hereby extended until 31 March 2024,” a letter signed by President Marcos addressed to Gen. Acorda stated. The transmittal letter regarding PBBM’s order signed by Sec. Bersamin was forwarded to DILG chief, Secretary Benhur Abalos.
In extending Acorda’s service, the Office of the President cited Executive Order No. 136, Series of 1999, which recognized the power of the President to approve the extension of service of presidential appointees beyond the compulsory retirement age for exemplary meritorious reasons.
Gen. Acorda has led the PNP to focus on an agenda for a more effective police force such as the Personnel Morale and Welfare, Community Engagement, Integrity Enhancement, ICT Development and Honest Law Enforcement Operations, the Palace said.
Thus, after replacing Gen. Jun Azurin as PNP chief last April 24, Gen. Acorda marked his 56th birthday last Sunday by having a nearly 4-months extension. Technically, the 29th PNP chief is considered to have been officially retired from the service last Sunday had PBBM did not sign the latter’s extension paper last December 1.
Prior to that, the scheduled Change of Command ceremonies at Camp Crame was postponed until further notice. Supposed to be, there will be a turnover rites between Gen. Acorda and his successor on that day.
However, the ceremony and the succeeding PNP Command Conference to be presided over by whoever will be Gen. Acorda’s successor was postponed until further notice.
Instead, the PNP National Headquarters instructed all commanders of the five Area Police Commands and the directors of the 17 Police Regional Offices and the National Operational and Administrative Support Units to be on standby in Metro Manila until Sunday for any development.
With Gen. Acorda’s term extended until March 31, 2024, it means all the candidates to replace him would have to wait for further announcement from the Palace in the next 15 weeks.
Republic Act 6975 or The Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990 states that the President shall appoint the PNP chief from among a list prepared by the Napolcom of “the most senior and qualified officers in the service” given that the prospect appointee has not yet retired or within six months from their compulsory retirement age.
The lowest rank of a qualified appointee shall be a Police Brigadier General.
Under RA No. 6975, the term of office of PNP Chief cannot exceed four years. However, An exception can be made by the President to extend the PNP chief’s term “in times of war or other national emergency declared by Congress.”
RA 8551 or the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 also says that “except for the Chief,PNP, no PNP member who has less than one (1) year of service before reaching the compulsory retirement age shall be promoted to a higher rank or appointed to any other position.”
This time, the Office of the President had cited Executive Order No. 136, Series of 1999, which recognized “the power of the President to approve the extension of service of presidential appointees beyond the compulsory retirement age for exemplary meritorious reasons.” War or no war, national emergency or not, it appears that the Chief,PNP’s term can really be extended now.
Thus, the top candidates led by Ilocano-speaking members of Philippine Military Academy ‘Tanglaw-Diwa’ Class of 1992 would have to wait until March next year. They include NCRPO director, Major Gen. Tateng Nartatez; CIDG director, Maj. Gen. Bong Caramat and PNP Director for Human Resource and Doctrine Development, Brigadier Gen. Ronald Lee.