POLICE officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday revamped the Philippine National Police (PNP), days after President Duterte expressed dismay over the “ninja cops” controversy and allegations of corruption and alleged illegal drugs links involving former top cop Gen. Oscar Albayalde.
Gamboa said the revamp that affected 21 key officials was triggered by the retirement of a number of ranking officials in the past weeks.
Albayalde stepped down Monday last week and went on a non-duty status until he officially retires on November 8, while Lt. Gen. Fernando Mendez, a member of PMA Class of 1985, reached the mandatory retirement age on October 12.
He said the reshuffle was implemented after the National Police Commission (Napolcom) approved the new assignments as endorsed by the Senior Officers and Placement Board which is composed of senior police officers.
The reorganization came after Duterte, during a command conference in Malacañang last Tuesday, expressed disappointment over the continued presence of ninja cops in the PNP as he chided the leadership for its failure to purge its ranks of corrupt policemen despite his full support and provision of the PNP’s needs.
The revamp was likewise announced after the Senate Blue Ribbon and justice committees recommended the prosecution of Albayalde and 13 ninja cops for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act for alleged misappropriation of drugs, and Albayalde for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for trying to block the implementation of a dismissal order against the 13 former Pampanga-based policemen.
The police officers were charged for the November 2013 anomalous drug raid on the house of a suspected Chinese drug lord, which investigators said was actually a “hulidap” operation and not a legitimate anti-narcotics raid.
The Senate has said that Albayalde, who was the Pampanga police chief when the operation was conducted, “caused undue injury to the State” and that he and the 13 policemen were “guilty of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance.”
Gamboa said he was treating Duterte’s disappointment as a big challenge to his leadership to totally win back the trust and confidence of their commander-in-chief and the public as well.
PNP spokesman Bernard Banac said former Directorate for Human Resources and Doctrine Development director Maj. Gen. Mariel Magaway was named the new Directorate for Intelligence director, while his vacated post was given to Maj. Gen. Amador Corpus, former chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
Corpus’ former post was assigned to Brig. Gen. Joel Napoleon Coronel, while Brig. Gen. Leonardo Cesneros will take over Coronel’s post as Police Regional Office 3 (Central Luzon) director.
Brig. Gen. Nicerio Obaob is the new Police Regional Office 4B (Mimaropa) director vice Brig. Gen. Tomas Apolinario who was named the deputy director of the Directorate for Intelligence.
Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Divina was tapped to lead the Police Regional Office 8 in place of Brig. Gen. Dionardo Carlos, who was assigned as the new PNP Highway Patrol Group director.
Brig. Gen Marcelo Morales, former Police Regional Office 11 (Davao) director, is now the director of the Police Security and Protection Group vice Brig. Gen. Filmore Escobal who was named to take over Morales’ vacated post.
Brig. Gen. Angelito Casimiro was named new Police Regional Office 2 (Cagayan Valley) director to replace Brig. Gen. Jose Mario Espino, while Brig. Gen. Edward Carranza (former Calabarzon Police Regional Office director) will take over Casimiro’s post as Logistics Support Service director.
Former Manila Police District director Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao was named the new Police Regional Office 4A (Southern Tagalog) director, with Brig. Gen. Bernabe Balbe will over his old post.
Brig. Gen Arnel Escobal will be the new Aviation Security Group director, while Brig. Gen. Anthony Alcañeses was tapped to be the Police Regional Office 5 (Bicol) director.
Brig. Gen. Joselito Daniel is the new director of the Police Community Affairs and Development Group while Brig. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, former PCADG chief, was named deputy chief of the Directorate for Police Community Relations.
Brig. Gen. Tomas Apolinario is the new deputy director of the Directorate for Intelligence, while Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro, former PNP Drug Enforcement Group, was named deputy regional director for administration of the Police Regional Office 5 (Bicol).
Col. Romeo Caramat, former chief of the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group, will take Ferro’s former assignment. The PNP IMEG will be now be headed by Col. Ronald Lee.
Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido allayed fears he will literally carry out Duterte’s “free to kill” order and told his critics to relax.
Espenido said his new assignment as deputy commander for operations of the Bacolod City Police will not involve him in actual police operations.
In an interview over dzMM, Espenido said his new assignment only requires him desk work and will involve signing paper work and enhancing the police’s plans and projects for the city.
“Ngayon deputy lang ako, taga prima sa opisina to enhance the plans and projects of the city (police), and magtulong sa staff for investigation. Hindi tayo sa field nakalagay ngayon, so bakit takot ang mga tao eh sa opisina naman ako ngayon, taga pirma. Relax lang muna (I am just a deputy commander, which entails me to sign documents and enhance the plans and projects of the city police, and help the staff for investigation. I am not assigned in the field so why are the people afraid? Just relax),” Espenido said.
President Duterte last week announced he has assigned Espenido to Bacolod City, which according to him is “badly hit” by illegal drugs.
“Go there, you are free to kill everybody… Bacolod is badly hit (by illegal drugs) now. I placed Espenido there. Start killing there. Dalawa na lang tayo pa-preso (Both of us can go to jail),” Duterte said in a speech at the 45th Philippine Business Conference & Expo on Thursday last week.
Espenido was chief of police of Albuera, Leyte in 2016 when policemen killed detained ex-Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. while serving a search warrant inside his prison cell.
A year later, Espenido was transferred to Ozamiz City, where Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others were killed in a series of illegal drug raids.
The President’s announcement sent shivers to cause-oriented groups and church leaders due to the possible rise in extrajudicial killings in the Bacolod City.
To prevent criminals, including drug users and pushers, from being arrested or be killed, Espenido said it will be best for them to just stop with their illegal activities as he called on the people to be one in prayer.
“Kay Father ((Bishop Patricio Buzon) naman, sa press at sa leaders ng Church, I would like to appeal to each of them na magdasal tayo, maging prayer warriors tayo na sana hindi aabot sa paghuli at pagkapatay ng tao, kundi surrender, stop with their illegal activities na lang sana (To Bishop Patricio Buzon, to members of the press, and to our church leaders, I would like to appeal to each of them to pray. Let us all be prayer warriors so that the police will not resort to arrests or maybe killings. They (criminals) better stop with their illegal activities or better yet to just surrender),”he said.
Espenido said there was no need for Buzon to be concerned over his transfer to Bacolod City, as he assured the priest and city residents that God is only using him as an instrument to preserve peace and order in their community.
He also asked Church leaders to gather the people and enlighten their minds of the evils of illegal drugs, as he, too, believes in the sanctity of human life.
Espenido said he has yet to receive a copy of the drugs watchlist of Bacolod City, which he said he will furnish copies to the media to justify police action if a person whose name is included in the drugs list is either arrested or killed in operations.
Malacañang said there will be no let-up in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, in a radio interview, said the war on drugs will not be derailed by the ninja cops scandal or the recommended prosecution of Albayalde.
“You know, when they said that it would be affected if there are policemen who are involved, it would not affect the war on drugs. Regardless of whether there is involvement of certain police officers, will not affect the war on drugs because those who are involved are exposed and prosecuted already, so it cannot be affected anymore,” Panelo said.
On the contrary, he said, the government expects the controversies to positively impact on the campaign against illegal drugs.
Panelo likewise dismissed speculations that some policemen will now hesitate to do their jobs after no less than Albayalde was implicated.
He said the policemen are brave and President Duterte himself has assured the PNP that he will back the policemen up if they are charged for fulfilling their mandate and following his orders. “(But) if you abuse your authority, there will be hell to pay,” he said, quoting the President.
On the Senate committees’ recommendations against the 13 ninja cops and Albayalde, Panelo maintained that charges can be filed only if there is sufficient evidence and if the prosecution finds probable cause to file charges.
He said it will be up to the courts to decide if anyone is guilty or not. – With Jocelyn Montemayor