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(UPDATE) It’s official: Arroyo names Verzosa new PNP chief

Verzosa: 'I am happy'

By Abigail Kwok, Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:57:00 09/22/2008

Filed Under: Police

MANILA, Philippines -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has named Deputy Director General Jesus Verzosa, an officer trained in intelligence work, as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

Verzosa will replace Director General Avelino Razon Jr., who will retire on Saturday. Ermita said there was "no indication" on whether or not Razon would be given a government post, like his predecessors.

"I was told by the President to announce his [Verzosa's] appointment," Ermita said in a phone interview on Monday.

Ermita said Arroyo chose Verzosa because "he was next in line," being the PNP's deputy chief for administration, or number two man.

In a separate interview, Verzosa said, ?I am very happy [with the appointment.]?

He added that he would be focusing on continuing the programs that would be left by Razon, particularly the transformation program of the PNP, such as the Mamang Pulis (Mr. Police) and Aling Pulis (Madam Police) program.

Verzosa added that he would continue other projects initiated by his predecessor such as the construction of more PNP facilities.

Meanwhile, Verzosa added that the PNP tactical approach against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would stay.

Razon congratulated Verzosa earlier this Monday, saying, ?I am confident that he will carry on with the reform programs here.?

Interior and Local Government secretary Ronaldo Puno also contradicted Ermita's claim that Razon would not be given another government post, saying, ?Arroyo has plans for Razon.? But Puno said the position was ?neither the National Security Council nor the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.?

The President, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, will return to the country in time for the turnover rites between Razon and Verzosa, tentatively scheduled on Saturday.

Verzosa is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy's 1976 "Magilas" class. His classmates include Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano, Army Chief Lieutenant General Victor Ibrado, Navy Chief Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez, AFP Deputy Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Rodrigo Maclang, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Chief Lieutenant General Nelson Allaga, Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) Chief Major General Isagani Cachuela, and Marines Chief Major General Ben Dolorfino.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. is an adopted classmate or "mistah" of Verzosa's PMA class.

Prior to being the PNP's number two man, Verzosa was chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), and the Intelligence Group (IG).

In 2003, when Verzosa was IG chief, Jemaah Islamiyah bomb expert Fathur Rohman al Ghozi escaped from his jail cell inside an IG facility in Camp Crame.

Verzosa resigned from his post to give way to an investigation into the escape. Al-Ghozi was killed in an encounter with government forces in Central Mindanao later that year.

Al-Ghozi was key suspect in the bomb attacks on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Blumentritt station in downtown Manila that killed over 20 people.

As CIDG regional director for Southern Tagalog in the early 1990s, Verzosa led an investigation that pointed to Calauan town Mayor Antonio Sanchez as the main suspect in the killing of University of the Philippine Los Baños students Allan Gomez and Mary Eileen Sarmenta.

Sanchez was convicted of the murders. He is serving a life sentence.

With a report from Christine Avendaño, Inquirer

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