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Bartolome looms as next PNP chief

Deputy Director General Nicanor Bartolome. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

No. 4 has a “virtual lock” on the No. 1 post.

Deputy Director General Nicanor Bartolome is succeeding the retiring Director General Raul Bacalzo as chief of the Philippine National Police, government sources told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday.

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“He’s a virtual lock. All the preparations for his appointment are being made already,” said a ranking official who spoke on condition of anonymity pending the formal announcement from Malacañang.

Bartolome, who holds the PNP’s fourth highest position as chief of the Directorial Staff, will replace Bacalzo who is retiring on September 9, six days before his 56th birthday, the official said.

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In another key appointment, the Department of Transportation and Communications on Friday named former Camarines Sur Representative Jaime Jacob, a human rights lawyer and member of the ruling Liberal Party, as the new chair of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Jacob, who also served as a commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, was recommended by Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II to replace Nelson Laluces, who resigned the LTFRB chairmanship last month.

“It’s already Bartolome,” according to the Inquirer source, an official privy to the decision-making process in the selection of the next PNP chief.

“But of course, nothing is confirmed except when the announcement has been made. It’s not likely, but we don’t know if the wind will change (directions),” the official said.

Short list

A second official, who also requested not to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, corroborated word of Bartolome’s selection, saying “we all expect him to be the next PNP chief.”

But PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendet Agrimero Cruz Jr., said nothing was final yet and that only President Aquino knew for sure who would be the next head of the 140,000-strong PNP.

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In earlier interviews, Bacalzo declined to endorse a successor and maintained that the President can choose any PNP official with the rank of chief superintendent or higher. Mr. Aquino earlier said he had already received a short list of candidates.

Last month, Camp Crame grew rife with talk that Bartolome would succeed Bacalzo following the former’s designation as officer in charge for a week after Bacalzo went on an official trip abroad.

The PNP’s two other three-star generals, Deputy Director Generals Benjamin Belarmino and Raul Castañeda, were also out of the country at the time.

Outside of the deputy director generals or the command group, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. was widely perceived to be Bartolome’s closest rival.

FLAG lawyer

Newly appointed LTFRB Chair Jacob was also a bar topnotcher and member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), a nongovernment organization that specializes in human rights cases. He lost in last year’s congressional elections.

In a statement Friday, Jacob said his first priority would be to crack down on so-called “colorum” public utility vehicles that ply the streets without a franchise.

“I feel this problem has a major law enforcement component,” Jacob said in a statement.  “We will make arrests to show the public that the agency is serious about this job.”

‘Multi-pronged strategy’

Jacob said Roxas had ordered him to work with the PNP, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Land Transportation Office for a “multi-pronged strategy that would ensure adequate law enforcement personnel to arrest recalcitrant colorum operators, and impound their vehicles.”

He said he would also push for the establishment of more impounding facilities nationwide, perhaps in the different PNP camps, for confiscated vehicles. He said the lack of such spaces had been a major problem for law enforcers.

Jacob was the newest addition to the growing list of new DOTC officials recruited by Roxas. They replaced officials brought in by former Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus.

Jacob succeeded Laluces, a former classmate of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, who is known as the head of the so-called “Samar” faction in the Aquino Cabinet. Roxas belongs to the so-called “Balay” faction.

Acosta to LLDA

President Aquino has found yet another assignment for his defeated Liberal Party senatorial candidate Nereus Acosta, whom he earlier appointed presidential adviser on environmental protection.

Acosta will now also sit in the board of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) in an “acting” capacity.

Malacañang on Friday announced Acosta’s appointment, about two weeks after the resignation of LLDA General Manager Rodrigo Cabrera, who was earlier accused of extortion. Acosta took his oath as presidential adviser nine days ago.

“GM Rodrigo Cabrera of the LLDA has resigned and he will be replaced,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters.

Extortion complaint

Valte explained that Acosta was not necessarily replacing Cabrera, noting that it is the LLDA board which elects the general manager. But she said it was possible for the present board to pick him as Cabrera’s successor.

Valte said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. accepted Cabrera’s resignation on August 17, but that she was not aware of his reason for quitting.

In June, Cabrera took a 60-day leave of absence following allegations that he and two other LLDA officials had demanded P300,000 from a certain Charlie Tan.

The complainant alleged that Cabrera and the other officials wanted money in exchange for the approval of his request to have his fishpens relocated from Rizal province to neighboring Laguna province.

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TAGS: Nicanor Bartolome, PNP, Police
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