Reshuffle of top police officials halted by DILG
MANILA, Philippines — In a rare move, the head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday halted the reshuffle of some senior officials in the Philippine National Police.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the reassignment of eight high-ranking PNP officials announced on Monday were “currently just recommendations” and not yet in effect.
“There are processes that should be followed. The list of the officials should be submitted to the Napolcom (National Police Commission) first for confirmation. After that, it shall be subjected to the President’s approval,” Abalos said in a statement.
In special orders dated June 26, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. reassigned eight generals, including the regional director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
The reassignment orders were signed by Maj. Gen. Robert Rodriguez, head of the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management, and Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta, the fourth in command as acting chief of directorial staff.
A joint turnover and assumption ceremony — with Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, PNP’s No. 2 as acting chief for administration, serving as the presiding officer — was scheduled in Camp Crame on Tuesday morning, which was moved to late in the afternoon, until it was eventually called off.
In stopping the action of the PNP leadership, Abalos, who sits as Napolcom chair, cited Section 6(3)(f) of Napolcom Memorandum Circular No. 2019-001, stating that “the assignment/designation of the [concerned positions] shall be submitted to the Commission for confirmation prior to the submission of the same to the President for approval.”
“Civilian control over the police is a hallowed principle of our fundamental law. Rest assured that the Napolcom will carry out its duty to oversee and enhance the administration of the PNP,” Abalos said.
Under Acorda’s orders, Brig. Gen. Jose Melencio Nartatez Jr., who was formerly the intelligence director, was named the new acting regional director of the NCRPO.
He would replace Maj. Gen. Edgar Alan Okubo, who was named the new chief of the Directorate for Police Community Relations (DPCR).
Interestingly, Nartatez was among the five brigadier generals who were reassigned in early May when Acorda implemented a “minor reorganization,” his first reshuffle in the PNP.
Before being named as chief of the intelligence service, Nartatez headed the Directorate for Comptrollership for barely a week—which was assigned to him by former PNP chief Rodolfo Azurin days prior to his retirement and was criticized by some officials as a midnight appointment.
Okubo would have been among the NCRPO chiefs with the shortest stint, serving for only four months, after being appointed in February also by Azurin.
Meanwhile, then DPCR director Maj. Gen. Mario Reyes was designated to head the Directorate for Logistics, while Maj. Gen. Jon Arnaldo replaced Nartatez as the new Directorate for Intelligence chief.
Brig. Gen. Ronald Oliver Lee was designated as the new chief of the Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development, replacing Arnaldo.
Maj. Gen. Eric Noble, director of the PNP Academy (PNPA), was named the new head of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, while Brig. Gen. Samuel Nacion would be the acting PNPA director.
Brig. Gen. Alan Nazarro from the Directorate of Information and Communication Technology Management was named the acting director of the Highway Patrol Group.
It would have been the third revamp implemented by Acorda, following the May 8 major reshuffle of some senior police officials that affected the third and fourth highest posts of the force’s command group.
The previous reassignment orders of Acorda did not face any problems with the DILG chief.
PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said the current positions of the officials would be maintained.
“Let’s wait for the official announcement of when the new schedule will be for the formal assumption of office and turnover of these positions,” she told reporters.
“But until such time that there is already a new schedule, the concerned officers will remain in their current positions,” she added.
Acorda earlier assured the PNP members that “promotions, assignments, and designations will be based on merit, ability and moral ascendancy, thereby placing the right people on the right job.”
He tasked the members of the Senior Officer Placement and Promotions Board—composed of officers duly authorized to vet, select and recommend PNP officers due for promotion, and placement to key positions—to conduct proper deliberations “to ensure that their recommendations are fair, objective and acceptable to all.”
Abalos, in his promise to cleanse the PNP of scalawags, ordered last April an independent Napolcom investigation of the October 2022 raid that yielded 990 kilos of “shabu” (crystal meth) worth P6.7 billion.
On June 9, 50 police personnel, including high-ranking officials, were named respondents in the criminal complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman for their involvement in the anti-drug operation.