MANILA, Philippines — Talk about salted fried chickens.
Some graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) have expressed dismay over President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to replace two key officials running the affairs of the county’s premier police academy with alumni of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
“It’s appalling. What the President did was like rubbing salt to the wounds of PNPA alumni,” an active senior police official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“The President could have used the opportunity to appoint a PNPA alumni as director of the academy, one who understands the reforms needed to improve the education and training of the cadets,” he added.
Last week, Aquino designated retired PNP Deputy Director General Ricardo de Leon to replace Ruben Platon as president of the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC), which had administrative supervision over the PNPA.
A member of PMA Class 1971, De Leon once served as president of the Mindanao State University and was known to have close ties with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
At the same time, the President also named Chief Supt. Armando Ramolete, of PMA Class 1982, to succeed the PNPA director, Chief Supt. Noel Constantino, whose six-month tour of duty in the police academy ended on April 3.
A senior Malacañang official, who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity, said Aquino decided to sack Platon and Constantino over their bickering in the media.
“The President was disappointed by the behavior of both Platon and Constantino. But he did not want to give an impression that he was favoring one of them so he decided to dismiss them both,” the Palace official said.
In his visit to Camp Crame last week, the Chief Executive made known his displeasure over the rift between Platon and Constantino, who was ordered relieved by Platon as PNPA director last year over differences on how to run the police academy.
Constantino, in return, accused Platon and other PPSC officials of irregularities and mismanagement of the PNPA resources.
Addressing a ceremony honoring outstanding policemen, the President said the two police officials were “acting like children,” reminding them of their responsibility to improve the quality of graduates of the PNPA and not to fight each other.
Admitting that he had been losing sleep over the two officials’ squabble, Aquino said: “They should be helping each other and correct the problem.”
Retired Chief Supt. Tomas Rentoy III, a member of the PNPA Alumni Association Inc., said the appointment of the two PMA alumni did not sit well with fellow graduates of the Silang, Cavite-based police academy.
“There are PNPA graduates who have the capabilities and are qualified to lead the PNPA. It seems like the PNP does not trust PNPA graduates,” Rentoy said in a mobile phone interview.
“That’s why we are calling on the President to designate a PNPA graduate to head the PNPA because we know the culture and practices in the academy which should be changed or retained,” he said.
Sought for comment, Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesman of PNP Director General Alan Purisima, defended the President’s decision, saying both De Leon and Ramolete were qualified for the positions given them.
“We do not consider the source of commissionhip of the officers in their appointment. It doesn’t matter if you’re a graduate of the PNPA or PMA,” Mayor argued.
“The more important thing is to ascertain who is the best qualified for the position. We should always look for the best interest of the PNPA as an institution. We should upgrade its level and make it a top-of-the-line (police academy).”