Aquino ‘scouting’ for new PNP chief
Aquino ‘scouting’ for new PNP chief
President Benigno Aquino III is already preparing for the retirement of PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima in late 2015

MANILA, Philippines – “With or without” the current predicament of Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima, President Benigno Aquino III is already looking at possible candidates to lead the 150,000-strong police force.

In a media interview in Busan, South Korea, on Friday, December 12, Aquino said he is screening candidates this early not due to the controversies hounding Purisima but because the top two PNP officials – Purisima and the Officer-in-Charge, Deputy Director General  Leonardo Espina – are due to retire next year.

The President made the statement when asked if he has thought of someone else to take over the PNP amid corruption allegations against Purisima.

“General Espina…will not be in the service that much longer. And General Purisima will reach 56 by 2015. So, with or without this issue, we have been looking (at the candidates). We are looking at the track record of all of the contenders,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Espina is due to retire in July 2015 and Purisima, in November 2015. Purisima is under a 6-month preventive suspension stemming from the alleged anomalous WERFAST Documentary Agency (WERFAST) deal in 2011.

Still mum on trust issue

The President declined to comment on whether the Ombudsman’s suspension order  on Purisima has eroded his trust in the PNP chief. He said he didn’t want to be miscontrued either way.

“I had…a 3-page briefer on what the specifics of the case are. And I’m hesitant to comment. I’m sure somebody will say I’m favoring Director General Purisima or I’ve lost trust in Director General Purisima,” he said.

Aquino and Purisima go a long way back, starting from the administration of his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino. Purisima, then a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG),  was assigned as the security aide of the President’s only son.

During the media interview, Aquino said the “bottom line” is that Purisima must submit himself to the process, following the Ombudsman’s order, but the PNP chief also “has the right to defend himself.” Just like anybody else, his rights “should also be protected.”

The President said that Purisima would argue that his role in the gun license delivery deal was only “ministerial,” and that it was not him who accredited the company in the first place.

On December 5, Purisima filed a motion before the Court of Appeals to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Ombudsman’s suspension order. (READ: Purisima’s defense in TRO suspension: Arias doctrine)

For this part, Aquino said he is trying to view the matter “from the overall picture.” –

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