INTERIOR Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday said he has recommended to President Duterte three senior police officials as potential successors of PNP chief Camilo Cascolan, who is reaching the retirement age of 56 next Tuesday.
In a phone interview, Año said he submitted the list on Tuesday night but declined to name the three officials so as not to preempt the President’s decision that he said may come within the week.
Año said his recommendation was based on a resolution adopted by the National Police Commission that he chairs.
“They are three senior officials from the Philippine National Police,” Año said. “This (recommendation) is based on a NAPOLCOM resolution, so it’s a collegiate decision.”
Año said the recommendation was based on seniority, merit, service record, and performance in the field and office duties.
“Also important is aptitude, the way they lead their people, leadership qualities and character, those are important,” said Año.
PNP deputy chief for administration Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar is the most senior official in the PNP, next to Cascolan. Eleazar is the concurrent commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield that is playing a key role in enforcing community lockdowns and quarantines.
The PNP has two other lieutenant generals who are also likely contenders. They are PNP deputy chief for operation and concurrent administrative support to COVID-19 Operations Task Force chief Lt. Gen. Cesar Binag, and Lt. Gen. Joselito Vera Cruz, the chief of the PNP directorial staff.
Eleazar, Binag and Cruz are all members of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1987. Cascolan is from the PMA class 1986, a classmate of three former PNP chiefs – now Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, Oscar Albayalde and Archie Gamboa.
Asked if Cascola’s term will not be extended by the President, Año said: “That also I cannot answer, it’s only the President (who can do that). You know, the President has the power, he can extend him because we are in a pandemic.”
Año said the President may also opt to allow Cascolan to bow out of service on his 56th birthday on November 10 and designate a new PNP chief ahead of Cascolan’s retirement. Cascolan took over as PNP chief on September 2 from Gamboa.