The fourth most senior official of the Philippine National Police—Deputy Director General Alan Purisima—is President Aquino’s choice to be the next PNP chief.
“I support Alan Purisima. This is the consensus. The President, I believe, is also supporting incoming PNP chief Alan Purisima,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas told reporters in Malacañang Tuesday.
“Unless I hear otherwise, (after) my discussions with the President, it is Alan Purisima,” Roxas added.
Purisima heads Task Force SAFE (Secured and Fair Elections), which will oversee law and order during the midterm elections in May 2013.
While talking about Purisima’s designation as chairman of the task force, Roxas inadvertently referred to him as the “incoming PNP chief.”
Pressed by reporters, he confirmed that Purisima was the President’s choice to head the 148,000-strong police organization.
“What’s important here is the preparation for the elections,” Roxas said. “We’ve designated the director for directorate services Alan Purisima to head the Election Task Force. So Alan Purisima, who is the incoming PNP chief, will craft the plans which he will be implementing once he becomes PNP chief.”
While he was in Laos early this month for the Asia-Europe Meeting, the President raised the idea of PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome retiring early and going on nonduty status before yearend to allow for his early replacement and smooth preparations for the elections.
Bartolome had indicated a desire to retire on March 16, when he will turn 56. But Mr. Aquino had said this would be too close to the May elections and it would be too late to appoint a replacement because of the ban on appointments during elections.
The President was earlier considering Bartolome to replace Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, who quit purportedly to give Roxas a free hand in choosing his team, but this did not happen.
Roxas said he had worked with Purisima the past several weeks and believes he is “qualified.”
Roxas said it was the President’s call to appoint Purisima as Bartolome’s replacement and that the “proper timing” for such an appointment was between now and December.
“The appointing power is the President … As to when is the proper timing—I think this is between now and December,” Roxas said. “In the next several days, we will know with clarity when is the proper timing.”
Roxas underscored the importance of a turnover in the PNP ahead of the elections. “It is a big organization. Smooth turnovers are important so things don’t fall between the cracks,” he said.
Roxas said he believed Bartolome had accepted the President’s suggestion to go on nonduty status ahead of retirement.
Roxas was previously reported to have been dismayed by Purisima’s performance when he was still the chief of the National Capital Region Police Office.
Purisima told the Philippine Daily Inquirer he was “elated” by the news that Roxas would endorse him as the new PNP director general. But he said he would still focus on his current job as chief of the PNP directorial staff.
“I feel elated. It’s an honor for me to be recommended by Secretary Roxas,” Purisima said. “But I will just continue what we are doing to improve the PNP and wait for the President to choose the next PNP chief in due time.”
Asked if Roxas and Mr. Aquino had spoken to him about his impending designation as PNP director general, he said: “We have yet to talk about it.”
A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, Purisima was assigned to the Presidential Security Group, which secured the President during the tumultuous years of the presidency of democracy icon Corazon Aquino.
It was during that time that Purisima developed a close friendship with Mr. Aquino.
Focus on training
A seasoned investigator, Purisima said he would focus on improving the basic training of policemen, given the chance to lead the PNP.
“If you ask ordinary policemen what their job is, I’m sure most of them will not be able to answer you appropriately because of their various tasks,” he said.
“That’s why we have to go back to their basic police training and make them understand their individual duties and responsibilities.”
Originally posted: 8:09 pm | Tuesday, November 13th, 2012