Choosing a PNP chief

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    FOR sure, President Duterte knows the meaning of the word “vet” and many times, in the course of his being mayor of Davao City and now, President of the Philippines, he had to vet and choose the right person for the right job after lots of interviews, inquiry and research, not to mention the numerous endorsements of officials, friends and relatives.

    In choosing Oscar Albayalde as chief of the Philippine National Police then, at a time when the government was in the thick of its operations in the war on drugs, the President admitted that several people who had his ears and in the know about police matters cautioned him: “Wag ‘yan. Mahigpit yan.” (Not him. He’s too strict.) Yet against this advice, the President chose Albayalde, because he was looking for a strict disciplinarian.

    Gen. Albayalde, now a few days from his official retirement, is in hot water not for being “mahigpit” but for being “maluwag.”

    How time flies and honor and reputations deteriorate fast when you are in Duterte’s government. Upon his return from Russia, the Chief Executive said he would be careful in scouting for a new chief of the 163,000-strong PNP: “Maya-maya madapa na naman tapos ako ang magkaroon ng problema. (I might stumble again and leave me with more problems.)”

    The series of hearings in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee clearly had a telling effect on Albayalde’s credibility, for his statements on a huge drug bust case in Pampanga when he was provincial police chief are full of holes, contradicted even by his fellow and more senior police officers.

    By his truncated pronouncements, Duterte at least hinted that he had “stumbled” in picking Albayalde for the top PNP position over his alleged involvement with rogue cops who recycle and sell illegal drugs confiscated during police operations. These policemen had even devised fantastic and creative SOPs on misreporting details of the operation, switching suspects, hiding the loot, etc. that their chief would either be on the take or terribly clueless and inefficient and “bobo” for not knowing what is happening in his command.

    While Malacanang had said the President still trusts Albayalde, the President had also ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano to investigate the case of the ninja cops who are allegedly led by Albayalde’s favored men.

    All these came to light because of the Senate’s investigation on the shenanigans in the Bureau of Corrections, not even on the war on drugs, but since the New Bilibid Prisons had been converted as an illegal drugs hub, there is no telling what other scandals this Bilibid pandora’s box holds.

    Albayalde’s explanation is that local politics in the PNP is doing him in, that this is just a demolition job in the wake of jockeying for the position that he will soon leave.

    It looked like being PNP chief is the highest paying job in the country.