Malacañang on Thursday welcomed Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome’s “positive response” to President Aquino’s plan to place him on nonduty status ahead of the midterm elections next year, but ruled out any immediate meeting between the two.
“The response of PNP Chief Bartolome has certainly been positive. But as to whether they are going to meet, that’s another matter. I don’t know yet if there’s a plan for the President and PNP Chief Bartolome to meet. But we’ll let you know,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a briefing.
While in Laos for the Asia-Europe Meeting, the President said he would ask Bartolome to retire early and go on non-duty status before yearend to allow his early replacement and smooth preparations for the May 2013 elections.
Bartolome has indicated a desire to retire on March 16 next year, when he turns 56, to enjoy full benefits. But the President said this would be too close to the May elections, and too late to appoint his replacement because of the election ban.
If he agrees to the proposal, Bartolome will still retire on March 16, and enjoy all his retirement benefits, the President said.
Bartolome said he welcomed the President’s proposal, except that Mr. Aquino had not discussed the matter with him. It appeared he only heard the news from the media.
Lacierda said the President’s plan stemmed from his desire to ensure peaceful and orderly elections, and had nothing to do with Bartolome’s performance.
“Certainly, our concern here is for the situation in the coming national and local elections. We want to ensure that there will be peace and order, hence, the need for us to prepare early on in terms of securing the election hot spots and ensuring peace and order throughout the country during the elections,” he said.
“This is merely looking forward and being proactive in the situation. We would like to minimize, if not totally eliminate violence during elections if at all possible,” he said.
Lacierda said he was not certain whether Deputy Director General Alan Purisima, who was recently designated by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II as head of the task force that would oversee the elections, would replace Bartolome.
“We don’t know yet. It’s up to the President to decide,” he said.