I FULLY agree with the 27th chief of the Philippine National Police, General Dionards Carlos when he said that the 222,000-strong force must unite and work together in ensuring an honest, orderly and peaceful May 2022 national and local elections.
In fact, the new PNP chief from PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 known for his integrity, track record and service reputation, was quick to answer me that as far as he is concerned, the ‘biggest threat’ in the holding of a peaceful and orderly May 2022 polls is not the New People’s Army and other usual threats like partisan armed groups and other lawless elements.
“Ang biggest threat ay pag hindi kami nagkaisa-isa. Pag kami ay nagkanya-kanya, walang mangyayari,” he told me in his first press conference after getting the nod of President Duterte to lead the PNP vice now senatorial candidate, retired Gen. Gilor Eleazar, besting at least four other candidates in what has turned to be one of the hottest race for the top PNP post since it was created in 1991.
The ‘Powerhouse General’ has already gotten the full support of the 17 Police Regional Office directors led by Major Gen. Vic Danao of the National Capital Region Police Office. The 17 police regional directors have vowed to fully comply with all programs and policies of Gen. Carlos who has assured the continuity of the fiscal reforms, the massive campaign against drugs, criminality, insurgency, terrorism and corruption as well as the internal cleansing program of his predecessors.
He also needs the support of his Command Group, two of them his upperclassmen from PMA ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987: Lieutenant Generals Jojo Vera Cruz and Bong Dickson and newly-installed PNP Chief Directorial Staff, Maj. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia of PMA ‘Makatao’ Class of 1989 as well as the different Directorial Staff which are crucial in implementing his programs.
It’s also nice to hear that Gen. Carlos has ordered all 17 police regional directors to fully respect the authority of the heads of the Area Police Commands whom he has given more power in the campaign against partisan armed groups, terrorism and insurgency in the country.
“The Area Police Commanders are the alter ego of the Chief, PNP in your areas, thus you must respect their authority,” said the 27th PNP who really knows what he is talking since he also used to be an Area Police Commander in Southern Luzon and Visayas regions. APCs used to be known as the PNP Directorates for Integrated Police Operations or DIPOs.
Gen. Carlos emphasized that APCs are the ones supervising combat operations in police regional offices under his jurisdiction. “This is the reason why we are strengthening and developing their capabilities. We want much stronger APCs in the PNP,” he said.
The PNP chief said that the PNP which is set to be deputized by the Commission on Elections to enforce all pertinent election rules in the field needs to synchronize its programs and activities for next year’s polls as it embarks on another mission to keep the election safe, fair and secure.
The top cop said that the APCs will be playing a much bigger role in their crackdown on insurgency, terrorism and private armed groups this early. “We will further develop and strengthen our Area Police Commands to make our operations on the ground more focused and aggressive as we strive to further deny insurgents, terrorists as we strive to further deny insurgents, terrorists and private armed groups the opportunity to sow terror in our communities,” he said in his assumption speech.
At present, three classmates of Gen. Carlos from PMA Class 1988 are APC directors namely Lieutenant Gen. Ferdie Divina of the DIPO-Southern Luzon; Lt. Gen. Marnie Marcos of the DIPO-Northern Luzon; and Lt. Gen. Joel Balba of the DIPO-Visayas.
The two others are from PMA ‘Makatao’ Class of 1989: Lt. Gen. Chiqui Malayo of the DIPO-Western Mindanao and Lt. Gen. Manny Abu of the DIPO-Eastern Mindanao.
Activated in May 2009, the PNP-DIPOs were given the responsibility to direct the conduct of integrated anti-criminality, internal security and counter-terrorism operations in the clustered areas of the country.
However, former DIPO commanders have complained to me that they really lack the support of the PNP leadership and RDs in the five clustered areas of the country. In the past, the five DIPOs were housed in a small building in Camp Crame which used to be the home of the PNP band. When it was still being occupied by the DIPOs, that building actually housed five 2-star generals and10 1-star generals.
However, during the 2-month tenure of former PNP chief, Gen. Pikoy Casolan, he ordered the relocation of all five DIPO offices outside Camp Crame as they need to fully coordinate their operations with the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command, the Southern Luzon Command, the Central Command based in the Visayas, the Eastern Mindanao Command and the Western Mindanao Command which are all headed by 3-star military generals.
Now, Gen. Carlos wants the real strengthening of the former DIPOs to beef-up the coordination and interoperability of the police and the military against communist insurgency, terrorists and other threat groups.
The new PNP chief has also ordered the evaluation of the performance of the 17 police regional offices and the different national operational units in the campaign against illegal drugs and other forms of criminality, insurgency, terrorism and corruption.
“We are going on a benchmarking here as we continue our programs to ensure a fair and peaceful election in 2022,” Gen. Carlos said. The top cop said he wants the ‘best and the brightest’ to fill-up the gaps in case a certain commander is transferred to another position.
To do this, he said that the candidates for key PNP positions will be under the full scrutiny of his PNP Command Group or the ‘Committee of Three’ as well as the Senior Officers Placement and Promotion Board. This means he is giving his Command Group and the SOPPB the leeway to choose new PNP commanders based on their track record, integrity and professionalism as they maintain their apolitical stand in next year’s election.