I am referring to the move of PNP chief, General Dionards Carlos to replace police provincial and city directors as well as chiefs of police in Metro Manila who have been in their posts for more than a year already to prevent possible partisan politicking activities among their officials.
The top cop’s directive means that more than 40 PDs, CDs and COPs who have been in their positions since 2020 or more than a year already are automatically being considered for replacement especially those who are serving under politicians-Governors, Mayors and Congressmen- who are seeking reelection on May 9. Add to them the police station commanders in different parts of the country.
While writing this piece, I was informed that more than a dozen PDs, CDs and COPs have already been replaced and as expected, there are some local chief executives who have cried foul—albeit silently or in whispers– over the PNP leadership’s decision claiming they were not consulted.
However, I haven’t heard of any LCEs who have lambasted the PNP decision on the media since it may really boomerang on them. At this point of time, I don’t think any politician in his right mind would attempt to apply pressure on the PNP leadership just to retain his police director or chief of police.
Why? Such an attempt would be misconstrued as a sign that he wants his favored police official on his side during the election since it would really benefit him in so many ways, particularly when a candidate wants authorities to go easy on his violation of many election laws. It means he is afraid that a new PD, CD or COP in his area would not tolerate his erring ways, if there are any.
The move of Gen. Carlos was part of his strong commitment to remain apolitical ahead of the May 9 national and local elections. Unknown to many, the top cop late last year has ordered all 17 Police Regional Office directors and chiefs of the different national operational support units to continue identifying and transferring their personnel with relatives gunning for elective posts in their areas of responsibility to prevent them from engaging in partisan politics.
The move was made as part of the PNP leadership’s commitment to bar its members from engaging in partisan politicking activities specifically after the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy for the May polls.
Gen. Carlos ordered the reassignment of police officers and men outside cities, municipalities and provinces where their relatives are seeking elective posts. Superiors of these police personnel who would be found to have defied the PNP leadership’s directive will be held accountable for disregarding direct orders, I was told.
Camp Crame has cited previous instances in which it received complaints about policemen who actively campaigned for their relatives and intervened on their behalf. Although some of the allegations were found to be false, the PNP leadership decided to issue the directive to prevent perceptions and even suspicions that its members are engaging in partisan political activities especially at the local level.
Thus, the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management headed by Major Gen. RJ Hinanay issued a memorandum to all 17 PRO directors to identify qualified Police Colonels as possible replacement for PDs and CDs in their respective regions and Chiefs of Police in Metro Manila.
The memorandum cited the February 10, 2021 Comelec Resolution No. 10695 which prescribed the calendar of activities and periods of certain prohibited acts in connection with the May 9 polls; the PNP Command Memorandum Circular No. 27-2021 issued on August 31 last year which detailed the guidelines and procedures in securing the conduct of the polls; and November 22, 2021 memorandum from the PNP Directorate for Operations which pertains to the rotation of PNP unit commanders, COPs and personnel.
Gen. Carlos said that in keeping with their non-partisan stand, the PNP which has been deputized by the Comelec to ensure the holding of a peaceful, secure, honest and orderly polls is managing the early rotation of the following unit commanders.
First in the list are those who have relatives up to the 4th degree of consanguinity/affinity who are seeking elective posts in their areas of responsibility. Second are commanders who have served a two-year tour of duty in their posts within the election period.
Last but not the least are PNP officers and men who are closely related to retired PNP and Armed Forces officers who are running for elective positions in their areas of responsibility and are known for having close association with the candidates in the past.
I learned that the PNP-DPRM late last year started conducting an inventory of PDs/CDs and COPs for reshuffling. The move was started amid a recommendation to limit the stint of PDs/CDs and COPs from two-year to one-year as provided in a proposed policy to further strengthen the PNP placement and promotion system of Third Level Police Commissioned Officers.
A police general also told me a ‘tried and tested formula’ to prevent politicians from meddling with their affairs. “Ang sikreto lang diyan ay huwag kang tumanggap ng regalo sa mga pulitiko para hindi very brave na mag-request sa yo tulad ng i-transfer mo itong pulis na ito, o ito ang gusto ko na PD, CD o COP,” the official said.
I fully agree with my friend. Filipino culture dictates that one -police official or not–who is receiving precious gifts from somebody won’t make any effort to piss him off. And every moneyed man-politician or not—expect somebody who received his gift—whether it is cash, a brand-new car or SUV, an expensive gun—to be beholden to him, as if it is the gift receiver’s obligation to say yes to all his whims and caprices.
However, there is also a need for the PNP leadership to stand behind its top field commanders whose heads are being sought by some politicians including known ‘political ‘butterflies’ who really have an ax to grind against them, for some political reasons or another. There are so many ‘butterflies’ in our dear country. Just count known Liberal Party stalwarts in the regions who defected to Mayor Duterte’s side just hours after it became clear that the latter would sweep the 2016 presidential race.