EVERYTHING was ready at Camp Crame on Friday for the scheduled Change of Command ceremonies last Friday except for the fact that the event was postponed until further notice.
Supposed to be, there will be a turnover rites between outgoing PNP chief General Benjie Acorda Jr. and his successor who will be chosen by President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr. last 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, I learned.
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 today, December 3, for any development
As I was making this piece, Malacañang Palace is yet to make any announcement on whether Gen. Acorda’s term will be extended or will there be another PNP chief today which Gen. Acorda’s 56th birthday,
The gossip mill in Camp Crame has been swirling with rumors that Gen. Acorda will get a 90-day extension. However, those rumors remained to be rumors, with no basis at all unless Malacañang makes an official statement on the matter.
On Thursday, news spread like wildfire across the country that my friend, Major Gen. Rudolph Dimas, a former commander of the elite PNP Special Action Force from PNP Academy ‘Tagapagpatupad’ Class of 1992 has been appointed as the next PNP chief.
The rumors spread so fast that some retired police generals even called me up in a hurry, asking if the reports they got was accurate. I made a quick check and soon discovered that Maj. Gen. Dimas was the troop commander for the scheduled Change of Command Ceremony at Camp Crame.
During their rehearsal under the heat of the sun, the emcee was reading the script minus the name of the incoming PNP Chief. To lighten up the crowd, Maj. Gen. Dimas , now the PNP Director for Plans, jokingly told the emcee, please mention my name as the next Chief PNP, with official orders to follow.
His words heard over his lapel microphone quickly spread like wildfire, even as far as the provinces hours later. Some apparently thought that what there were hearing is correct and went on to spread the ‘fake news.’ On Friday, many generals and I were all having a genuine uncontrollable laughter over that news.
As I have mentioned already, the Palace is yet to announce its decision on Gen. Acorda or his possible successor although the 29th PNP chief will be marking his 56th birthday today, his mandatory retirement day.
I have learned from different sources that the Office of the President has been sent an official invitation regarding the scheduled PNP turnover of command on Friday although Malacañang did not make a reply regarding the matter.
PBBM’s busy schedule is also being looked into when it comes to his attendance to the major Camp Crame event. As I have mentioned before, 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 PNP chief invariably gets a 4-star rank or the rank of Police General and become an ex-officio member of the National Police Commission. When Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa became the 1st PNP chief of the Duterte administration, he was only a Police Brigadier General, the Executive Officer of the PNP Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development. Right after he took his oath of office, Gen. dela Rosa got his 4-star rank.
Two other former NCRPO directors, then Major Generals Oca Albayalde and Debold Sinas became PNP chiefs during the PRRD presidency. Straight from the NCRPO, the two became our top cops without joining the PNP Command Group.
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 Gen. dela Rosa whose term was extended for three months by PRRD 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 however.
The same thing was done by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she extended the term of then PNP chief Edgar 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.
What was highly-criticized that time was then Lieutenant Gen. Aglipay, then the PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, was designated as PNP Chief on August 23, 2004, or less than a month before he marked his 56th birthday on September 13, 2004. In short, Aglipay got a 6-months extended term.
I believe that also being considered this time is the proposed Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP) Pension Fund bill expected to be approved during the 1st quarter of 2024. The MUP Bill 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. However, who among the current batch of retiring PNP generals and colonels will benefit from the MUP Bill?
As I have been saying again and again, the PNP chief must enjoy the President’s full trust and confidence. He must also have the dogged determination to do his job, the much-needed track record and service reputation and of course, loyalty to the Constitution and the duly-constituted authorities.
However, another crucial factor in the selection of the 3rd PNP chief under the young Marcos Jr.’s administration will be the recommendation of PBBM’s most trusted lieutenants and security officers and advisers from the Solid North.
They include DILG chief Benhur Abalos, NICA chief Dick de Leon, National Security Council chief Ed Año and Presidential Adviser on Police and Military Affairs, retired Police Gen. Roman ‘Popong’ Felix.
As I have said before, PBBM has a long list of candidates to pick including the current members of Gen. Acorda’s Command Group, namely Lieutenant Generals Rhodel Sermonia, Mike Dubria and Emmanuel 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 NCRPO chief, Maj. Gen. Tateng Nartatez, PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director, Major Gen. Bong Caramat Jr. and PNP Director for Human Resource and Doctrine Development, Brig. Gen. Ronald Lee.
Ilocano-speaking police generals naturally would have the upperhand in the race. Believe me when I say 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.