THE Philippine National Police (PNP) sees no problem if President Duterte himself takes over the leadership of the nationwide police force. The police organization’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, reasons out that since Duterte is the commander-in-chief, the orders come directly from the President, and so he can take over the position of PNP chief, and be able to effect a seamless blend of administrative governance and internal security.
Here’s a run-down of the current leadership situation in the PNP. The position of Chief PNP was left vacant after Director General Oscar Albayalde went on a non-duty leave status days ahead of his mandatory retirement. Unforeseen circumstances such as the Senate investigative hearings precipitated by the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) caper of convicted rapist Mayor Antonio Sanchez opened a can of worms. These series of public hearings segued to an even scathing probe on the involvement of rogue policemen in illegal drugs rackets, which led to Albayalde’s downfall.
The national police is now led by the most senior officer, Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa in an office-in-charge status. He is yet to be named PNP chief. The other contenders for the post are Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, deputy chief of operations, and Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of directorial staff.
There are at least three or four generals now vying for the PNP’s top post and under the law that created the police organization, the President has the prerogative to appoint even a full colonel, according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, himself a former PNP chief.
It has been almost a month now that the top police position has been vacant. Orders come directly from the commander-in-chief and Banac sees no problem with this. We beg to disagree.
Duterte is already saddled with problems of governance, mostly involving the economy, foreign relations, delivery of basic services and the fight against graft and corruption. Why burden him some more with problems of security? Micro-management is not the essence of the presidency.
The longer the position of PNP chief is vacant, the greater the damage this procrastination is doing to the government’s much-touted war against illegal drugs. Duterte’s inability to appoint a regular chief clearly shows that there is a general distrust in the Palace about the honesty and capability of senior police officials as a group.
If the President cannot find a good leader for the police, then at least the National Police Commission should grant full powers to the officer-in-charge as Sen. Lacson had suggested. Sen. Lacson pointed out that if Gamboa remains an OIC, he cannot sit as ex-officio member of Napolcom and won’t have a voice in policy-making.
It is up to President Duterte to hasten the vetting process and swiftly find a replacement for the unlamented one who had to leave fast in disgrace.