Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian called on Malacanang to put an end to the bad practice of designating officers-in-charge in the Philippine National Police or PNP by appointing officers to sensitive positions on a permanent capacity.
He added this should start with the appointment of a new PNP chief to replace resigned Director-General Alan Purisima.
Gatchalian made the statement in the wake of media reports that at least 70 PNP officials occupying sensitive positions, including the Office of the Chief, PNP, are merely caretakers. If they are just caretakers, it means that they have limited powers and cannot dismiss or reassign police officers under them.
“An OIC PNP chief like Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina has no power to appoint officials on a permanent capacity since he, himself, is a mere caretaker. Before he can appoint officers to permanent positions, he should first be appointed as PNP chief by President Aquino,” Gatchalian said.
The Valenzuela City solon also said the number of OICs in the PNP ballooned after resigned PNP chief Purisima was ordered suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman on Dec. 4 last year due to several graft and plunder charges he is facing.
Espina was the PNP’s deputy chief for operations (DCO) when Purisima was suspended for six months beginning December. When Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas, the PNP’s deputy chief for administration (DCA) and No. 2 man, retired last Dec. 8, Espina – as the most senior official in the police force – was automatically named the PNP’s OIC.
“In effect, General Espina is not only the PNP OIC but also the caretaker of the DCA and DCO, the two top posts of the PNP. That’s three sensitive posts for one police general. This is the first time that this kind of situation happened in the 23 years of the PNP’s existence,” said Gatchalian, who is an honorary member of Class 1994 of the Philippine National Police Academy.
Aside from Espina, the other police officials holding their positions in caretaker capacities are Chief Superintendents Ronald Santos of Police Regional Office 3 (Central Luzon), Erwin Erni of PRO 4-A (Calabarzon), Asher Dolina of PRO 8 (Eastern Visayas) and Agrimero Cruz of PRO 10 (Northern Mindanao); and Senior Superintendent Noel Armilla of PRO Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Also included in the more than 70 OICs in the PNP are deputy regional directors; provincial and city directors; chiefs of police in Metro Manila and heads of various support and administrative units in Camp Crame.
Gatchalian pointed out that in order to resolve the question of so many OICs in the PNP, President Benigno Aquino III should convince resigned PNP chief Purisima to retire from the service so that his four-stars (director-general rank in the PNP) can be given to whoever the commander-in-chief wants to appoint as the new PNP chief.
He said the main contenders for PNP chief are OIC Deputy Director General Espina and PNP directorial staff chief Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr., who are both members of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981.
Both Espina and Garbo, he added, are both highly qualified to become chief of the 150,000-strong national police but time is against the former since Espina is due to retire in July this year when he reaches that mandatory retirement age of 56.
“This leaves General Garbo as the logical choice since he still has more than one year before he retires and his retirement will happen after the 2016 presidential elections,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian maintained that appointing a new PNP chief restore stability and raise morale in an organization reeling from the loss of 44 Special Action Force or SAF commandos in the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash.
“The appointment of the PNP chief would definitely stabilize an organization beset with organizational problems and demoralized elements over the mishandling of the SAF operation in Mamasapano,” he said.
Gatchalian said filling in the vacancies in the PNP hierarchy should not be a problem with the President since the PNP has a seniority lineal list which determines who is should be next in line in when a position becomes vacant.
“The seniority lineal list is a guide for the President to choose who among the most qualified can be appointed to the position that fits his or her level of competence and track record in the police service. All the President has to do is to choose whom to appoint based on the recommendations of the PNP Senior Officers Placement and Promotions Board,” Gatchalian concluded. (R. Burgos)