New PNP chief Acorda vows to maintain cleansing of ranks
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has picked Police Maj. Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. as the new chief of the 228,000-strong Philippine National Police, a move hailed by lawmakers and colleagues.
In his acceptance speech during the change-of-command ceremony led by the President on Monday at Camp Crame, Acorda, the former chief of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence, promised to continue his predecessor’s campaign to cleanse the police organization of scalawags.
“My stand on [illegal] drugs is clear—no police should be involved in pushing, using or whatever means of illegal drug trade,” he pointed out.
“You will be charged and removed from the service. This is my warning to each and everyone of you, our fight will be holistic in prevention and aggressive in operations,” he told policemen. “Under my leadership, rewards and punishment will be quick and decisive, it shall be fair and impartial and due process shall be observed.”
Acorda vowed that the PNP would be transparent under his watch: “To the media, our long-time partners, we welcome critics as our independent source of check and balance. We are allies in bringing out the truth… We will be transparent.”
He is expected to lead the PNP for almost eight months, with his retirement set on Dec. 3 when he turns 56 years old, the mandatory retirement age.
Acorda replaced now retired Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., whom the President thanked for his leadership and service to the country.
Explaining his choice of Acorda, Mr. Marcos said in an interview over state-owned Radyo Pilipinas: “There are many things happening in our police, we’re looking at them. We’re having problems so there is a need for us to place a dependable commander [and Acorda] is somebody who is well-known to me.”
The President said he knew the abilities and reputation of Acorda inside the PNP and that Acorda’s name was “always part of the shortlist” for PNP chief.
“He is well-recognized within the police force and even in our civilian leadership, especially in the places he’d been in—he became a PD (provincial director) and RD (regional director). We heard his name and the report about him is good so I said, maybe, he is the one most fit [to be PNP chief] now,” he said.
Just like his predecessor, Acorda traces his roots back to Mr. Marcos’ home province of Ilocos Norte where he grew up and finished his elementary and secondary education at Gabaldon Elementary School’s Special Education Center in the capital city of Laoag and Bacarra National Comprehensive High School in Bacarra town, respectively, before moving to the Philippine Military Academy where he graduated in 1991. He also has a Master’s Degree in Management from the Philippine Christian University.
Acorda’s father and namesake served as a lawyer for the Citizen’s Legal Assistance Office, now known as the Public Attorney’s Office, in La Union province. His mother, Purificacion Casuga Acorda, was a government nurse in La Union.
Prior to becoming PNP chief, he widely served in his home province of Ilocos Norte as chief of operations and plans, intelligence officer and assistant provincial director for operations in 2008, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group deputy chief of operations in 2010.
He headed the Palawan provincial police and the regional police office in Northern Mindanao before he headed the Directorate for Intelligence in August 2022.
The low-profile Acorda has no known baggage and will be stepping into the PNP leadership without major controversies linked to his name in a career spanning more than three decades.
The new PNP chief also earned numerous accolades, including the Bronze Cross Medal, a prestigious single-grade military decoration of the AFP awarded for heroism involving risk of life, and several presidential citations, awards and decorations.
Acorda served as the chief of staff of the PNP Civil Security Group and was one of the officials who pioneered the creation of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group.
Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. welcomed Acorda’s appointment and assured him of his agency’s support.
Senators on Monday also lauded the appointment of Acorda, with Sen. Ronald dela Rosa saying that he was the “best choice” to lead the PNP.
Dela Rosa, himself a former PNP chief, described Acorda as a “silent operator” and a “very professional officer” who knows how to stand his ground despite “pressures from selfish politicians.”
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri was also elated over Acorda’s designation as he noted the police general’s accomplishments when he led the Northern Mindanao regional police.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she received information that Acorda was “well-meaning and idealistic,” qualities that would help him implement reforms in the police organization.
In the House of Representatives, dangerous drugs committee chair Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said Acorda should continue cleansing the PNP’s ranks amid controversies surrounding its antinarcotics drive.
In Pangasinan province, Arturo Lomibao, also a former PNP chief, said he believed Acorda was prepared to assume the post with his “experience, knowledge and skills” despite “jumping over” three senior officers occupying three-star positions.
Retired Police Col. Paterno Orduña, a former intelligence officer of the Pangasinan police, described Acorda as a “hardworking” and “low-profile” junior officer in Pangasinan when Lomibao served the Ilocos regional police.