THE scheduled Change of Command ceremonies on Friday at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame was postponed until further notice, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
Supposed to be, there will be a turnover rites between outgoing PNP chief General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. and his successor who will be chosen by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday.
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-NHQ 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, December 3, for any development.
As of yesterday, there is still no word on whether Gen. Acorda’s term as the country’s top cop will be extended or will the country witness the oathtaking of the its 30th top cop this week.
Malacañang Palace is also yet to announce as of press time its decision on Gen. Acorda or his possible successor although the PNP chief is set to mark his 56th birthday on Sunday.
Journal Group sources said that the Office of the President has been sent an official invitation regarding the scheduled PNP turnover of command on Friday although Malacañang is yet to make a reply regarding the matter.
President Marcos Jr.’s busy schedule is also being looked into when it comes to his attendance to the major Camp Crame event.
The Commander-in-Chief has the prerogative to choose a PNP chief from any official with the rank of Police Brigadier General up. The appointed Chief, PNP invariably gets a 4-star rank or the rank of Police General and become an ex-officio member of the National Police Commission.
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.”
Since the PNP was created in 1991, two of its chiefs have already gotten an extension.
One of them is former PNP chief-turned Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa whose term was extended for three months by then President Rodrigo R. Dutete on December 2017, or just weeks before the latter’s retirement on January 21, 2018.
There was “martial law” in Mindanao when dela Rosa’s term was extended.
The same thing was done by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she extended the term of then PNP chief Edgar B. Aglipay for six-months despite so many criticisms. Her move allowed Aglipay to serve as PNP chief from August 23, 2004 until March 14, 2005 although he had already marked his 56th birthday on September 13, 2004.
The proposed Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP) Pension Fund bill expected to be approved during the 1st quarter of 2024 will raise the retirement age of officers and men of the PNP from 56 to 57-years old similar to that in the Armed Forces of the Philippines is already in the works.
Officials said that the PNP chief must enjoy the President’s full trust and confidence. However, Journal Group sources said that another crucial factor in the selection of the 3rd PNP chief under the young Marcos Jr.’s administration will be the recommendation from his most trusted lieutenants and security officers and advisers from the Solid North.
They include Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ C. Abalos Jr., National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director General Ricardo F. De Leon, National Security Council chief Eduardo M. Año and Presidential Adviser on Police and Military Affairs, retired Police Gen. Roman ‘Popong’ A. Felix.
Journal Group sources said that President Marcos Jr. has a long list of candidates to pick including the current members of Gen. Acorda’s Command Group namely PNP Deputy chief for Administration, Lieutenant Gen. Rhodel O. Sermonia; PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Lt. Gen. Michael John F. Dubria; and PNP The Chief Directorial Staff, Major Gen. Emmanuel B. Peralta.
Then there are the members of Philippine Military Academy ‘Tanglaw-Diwa’ Class of 1992 whose names are being mentioned as among the contenders to replace Gen. Acorda.
They are National Capital Region Police Office director, Brig. Gen. Jose Melencio C. Nartatez Jr., PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director, Major Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr., PNP Director for Human Resource and Doctrine Development, Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee, PNP Director for Logistics, Maj. Gen. Mario A. Reyes, PNP Director for Logistics, Brig. Gen. Leo M. Francisco and Area Police Command-Western Mindanao commander, Maj. Gen. Jonnel C. Estomo.
Last but not the least, Journal Group sources have also mentioned the name of PNP Director for Police-Community Relations, Maj. Gen. Edgar Alan O. Okubo of PNP Academy ‘Tagapagpatupad’ Class of 1992 as another ‘Chief,PNP-tiable.
Officials said that the appointment of the 30th PNP chief will be crucial since he will not only be leading the organization’s continuing war on drugs, criminality, terror and corruption but will be appointed on a time that the entire country is facing major challenges brought about by issues on the West Philippine Sea and the Israeli-Hamas war.