Aquino urged by lawmakers to appoint new PNP chief
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers on Monday urged President Benigno Aquino III to name a new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to restore stability in an organization reeling from the loss of 44 police commandos in the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash.
Retired police general and now Rep. Samuel Pagdilao of the Anti-Crime and Terrorism-Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list, said the appointment of the PNP chief would “stabilize an organization beset with morale and organizational problems.”
He said the resignation of Alan Purisima over the botched operation in Maguindanao province that killed 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troops effectively rendered the latter’s position vacant.
Purisima has resigned from his post but retains his four-star general rank, which only one officer in the hierarchy may wield. He is to retire in November.
The PNP is currently headed by an officer-in-charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, who will retire in July.
“The time is now to appoint a permanent chief PNP to remove a vacuum [and] thus provide a clear command and control from an officer with mandate and authority,” Pagdilao said.
He noted that a lot of positions in the PNP were being handled by officers in charge (OICs) in the absence of a permanent PNP chief with the power to make designations.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, an administration ally, said Purisima’s post should be filled as soon as possible “if only to show that the PNP that the President is looking forward instead of continuing to be teary-eyed and remorseful about having Purisima go.”
“Enough of presidential nostalgia for Purisima,” he said.
Mr. Aquino is known to be very close to Purisima, who was part of the security team that protected him in an ambush during one of the coup attempts against his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.
Bello said the President’s apparent reluctance to fully remove Purisima from the service was demoralizing to the PNP.
“There should be no shortage of qualified candidates since under Republic Act 6975, any police officials of star rank — that is chief superintendent and up — can fill the post of the PNP chief,” he said.
Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said the absence of a permanent PNP chief might have implications on the peace and order situation ahead of the m 2016 elections.
“Malacañang has to appoint a new PNP chief at once, considering that the next presidential election is just 15 months away, and whoever is
named may need at least six months to get accustomed to the job,” he said.
He said the new PNP chief should push to reenergize the 150,000-strong police force in the aftermath of the Mamasapano debacle.
Romulo named seven potential replacements for PNP chief: Espina; Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr.; and Directors Carmelo Valmoria, Ricardo Marquez, Benjamin Magalong, Danny Constantino and Juanito Vaño.
Critics pointed to breakdown of command as the cause of the bloodshed that marked the top-secret operation to neutralize Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli Bin hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino protégé, Basit Usman.
Marwan is believed to have been killed in the SAF raid.
The 44 SAF commandos were killed when their assault team and a blocking force were overwhelmed by fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which Usman, whose whereabouts are now unknown, commanded.
Some 18 other MILF men and six civilians were also killed in the encounter.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a former rebel junior military officer, said Purisima should retire for the sake of Mr. Aquino and the PNP organization.
“It’s time for the President to appoint a new PNP chief to refocus the organization to its mandate of protecting the safety of the greater majority of the Filipino people,” he said.
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