Officials must rally behind whoever will be PBBM’s 1st PNP Chief

July 2, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 1616 views

Alfred DalizonMAY the best man really win. I’m referring to the official who will be appointed by President Bongbong Marcos as his 1st chief of the Philippine National Police, the man who is set to implement the peace and order programs of the new administration.

There have been several names already mentioned as contenders for the post and naturally, one of them is the PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant General Vic Danao of PMA ‘Sambisig’ Class of 1991.

The others are three members of PMA ‘Makatao’ Class of 1989, namely PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, PNP Director for Operations, Maj. Gen. Val de Leon and Area Police Command-Northern Luzon commander, Lt. Gen. Jun Azurin.

The names of Police Regional Office 10 director in Northern Mindanao, Brigadier Gen. Benjie Acorda, also of PMA Class 1991 and PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director, Maj. Gen. Ely Cruz of PMA ‘Bigkis Lahi’ Class of 1990 have also been mentioned as contenders for the top PNP post.

All these officials are my friends who have the solid characters and competency to lead the 225,000-strong police force. However, many star-rank officials and middle-grade officers who have been watching from the sidelines have told me the one but same thing: all the candidates must immediately gather and air their support to whoever will be PBBM’s choice.

“PBBM scored a landslide victory because Filipinos believe in his call for unity. The same must also be followed in our organization and everybody must become a United Team that will support the new Chief,PNP. No more bickerings, no more back-stabbings,” a 1-star police general told me over a cup of coffee on Friday.

While writing this piece, there is still no official announcement on who will be the next Chief,PNP although some friends from the new government told me PBBM has already made up his mind and has chosen his 1st CPNP with the help of his trusted lieutenants who fully screened the applicants.

Three days after PBBM was sworn in as the 17th Philippine President, the Palace is yet to make an official announcement regarding the matter. However, I would like to stress again the the Chief,PNP must possess the competency and integrity to handle the job as he will be answerable to both the PNP’s internal and external audience.

Even considered as the 2nd most powerful official in the country having in his command the entire police force which has presence in all parts of the country or from Aparri to Jolo, the PNP chief should have the dogged determination to do the job, the needed track record and service reputation, a ton of contribution to the country’s peace and order campaign, and most importantly, the loyalty to the Constitution and the duly-constituted authorities.

Having covered all the PNP chiefs since the national police force was created in 1991, I have known how they moved and talked, their hand and body signals a giveaway if they wish to do this or that. Many of them became good friends even after retirement too.

The law says that the President, as the Commander-in-Chief 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 law also says that the “lowest rank of a qualified appointee shall be the rank of Police Brigadier General. As PNP chief and an Ex Officio member of the Napolcom, the Chief,PNP is given the power to command and direct the police force.

His so-many powers include “the power to direct and control tactical as well as strategic movements, deployment, placement, utilization of the PNP or any of its units and personnel, including its equipment, facilities and other resources.”

Since 1991 to date, the PNP has already 27 Chiefs, the 1st being the late Gen. Cesar ‘Hari-Hari’ Nazareno and the last Gen. Dionards Carlos. It should be interesting to note that all the PNP chiefs we have were products of the prestigious Philippine Military Academy.

Those who followed Nazareno are the following: Raul Imperial, Umberto Rodriguez, Recaredo Sarmiento II, Santiago Aliño, Bobby Lastimoso, Edmundo Larroza, Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, Larry Mendoza, Jun Ebdane, Egay Aglipay, Art Lomibao, Oca Calderon, Sonny Razon, Raul Bacalzo, Nic Bartolome, Alan Purisima, Dindo Espina, Ric Marquez, Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, Oca Albayalde, Archie Gamboa, Pikoy Cascolan, Debold Sinas, Gilor Eleazar, Dionards Carlos and now Lt. Gen. Danao.

Two of them: Nazareno and Mendoza have long passed away. Two became Senators in the person of Lacson and dela Rosa. Two are lawyers in the person of Bacalzo and Gamboa.

So far, the PMA ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 has produced the most number of PNP chiefs with dela Rosa, Albayalde, Gamboa and Cascolan. PMA Class 1971 has two in the person of the honest and incorruptible Lacson and Aglipay. PMA Class 1981 has two in the person of Purisima and Espina. Generals Larroza and Espina are technically counted as the 7th and 18th PNP chiefs although they were only designated as PNP Officers-in-Charge, Larroza for five months and Espina for nearly seven months.

Gen. Carlos of PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 became the 27th PNP Chief while Lt. Gen. Danao is technically the 28th head of the PNP, his photograph set to join the PNP Chiefs’ gallery at Camp Crame and nobody can erase that memory.

New DILG chief Benhur Abalos is also expected to have a hand in the selection of The Chief whom we always know must have a good career pattern and meritorious record and of course, must be credible to all.

To my mind, all the contenders have really proven their worth in the past and present. However, the choice will always be made by our President, no one else. Thus, this has something to do with service reputation, sterling service record, untarnished integrity and the most important of them all, loyalty to the President and the Republic.

Right now, the PNP Officers Corps is one in saying that they will fully abide by the decision of PBMM and will support his pick. Officials said they would submit to the better judgment and freehand of the Chief Executive to exercise his prerogative of appointing the Chief PNP as provided by law.

The age of the candidates is also expected to count here. Lt. Gen. Danao will be retiring on August 10, 2023; Lt. Gen. Sermonia on January 26, 2024; Lt. Gen. Azurin on April 24, 2023; Maj. Gen. de Leon on May 7, 2023; Maj. Gen. Cruz on June 14, 2023; and Brig. Gen. Acorda on December 3, 2023.

As I have previously written, my friends have been telling me that BBM won’t be having a hard time picking his 1st Chief,PNP since he has many trusted aides who can give him the best recommendation since they know the ins and outs of the police force and its officials.

PBBM’s trusted men also know the colors of the generals, including the retired ones who are applying for positions in the new government claiming they supported PBBM although they were known for being with the other candidates.

Speaking of the Armed Forces, the question is will BBM replace the present AFP chief of staff, General Andres Centino of PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 who will only retire from the force in February 2023, his 56th birthday.

The question has been raised after President Duterte signed into a law Republic Act No. 11709 which ensures a 3-year term for the AFP chief, ending a ‘revolving door’ policy that gave rise to AFP chiefs of staff who served for only a few months before they mandatorily retired from the service.

RA 11709 intended to strengthen the merit system of the AFP and ensure continuity of its programs and policies. One of its most important provisions is the creation of fixed terms for its key officers.

The new law states that the AFP chief of staff, Vice Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, the Commanding Generals of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the AFP Inspector General and the chiefs of the AFP Unified Commands will now have fixed terms of three years, regardless of age and unless their appointment is “terminated sooner by the President.

Again, I hope and pray that under BBM, Congress will also pass a similar law giving a fixed term to the Chief,PNP to allow real continuity of his programs and policies. Come to think of it but some of the previous PNP chiefs were not given the full chance to carry out their noble programs due to their very short tenure of six months, and even two-months only in the case of Cascolan.