Cadets talk future of PNP, BJMP, BFP with Aquino
CAVITE, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III seems to be fond of holding open forums with officers of the uniformed services lately.
On Thursday, March 26, after 246 cadets from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA)’s Class of 2015 were officially commissioned as inspectors of the national police, fire management, and jail forces, Aquino met with them in a closed-door meeting at Camp Castañeda in Silang, Cavite.
The "open forum" held in one of the classrooms inside the academy, lasted close to an hour.
“Maganda naman, naging parang open forum with cadets. Parati naman ang Presidente ganoon eh, nakipag-usap sa mga kadete pag ganitong konting panahon, despite his very busy schedule,” said PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina in a chance interview with reporters.
(It was fruitful, like an open forum with cadets. The President always does that, speaking to cadets despite his very busy schedule.)
The President does not usually meet with cadets from the police, or even military academy but given recent events, a dialogue with newly-minted police officers doesn’t seem out of place.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), where 225 from the PNPA class of 2015 are commissioned, is at a crossroads. The police force is still reeling from the aftermath of a botched police operation in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao that killed 67, including 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF).
Of the 44, 6 were graduates of the police academy.
“Makikita mo yung mga kadete, asking about yung future (The cadets were asking about the future) immediate plans,” said Espina.
Aquino was joined by police, jail, and fire bureau officials, as well as some members of his Cabinet, during the closed-door huddle.
Espina, in a text message, said the cadets asked about the "various plans and programs of government" for the PNP, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Future officers of the 3 uniformed services are trained and educated in the PNPA.
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, who was at the meeting with the cadets, said the Palace will "issue a report" as soon as they get hold of the official transcript.
As of posting, the transcript has yet to be sent to the media.
Earlier this month, Aquino also met with SAF troopers prior to the installation ceremony of its new chief, Chief Superintendent Moro Lazo. SAF troopers, during the closed-door meeting in Camp Bagong Diwa, were told to ask the President any question that lingered in the aftermath of “Oplan Exodus.”
Oplan Exodus, a January 25 police operation that saw close to 400 members of the SAF enter Mamasapano town to neutralize two terrorists, is the biggest crisis to hit Aquino’s administration.
The President has been under fire for his involvement and that of his friend, former PNP chief Police Director General Alan Purisima, who at the time of the operation was serving a preventive suspension over a graft case.
During the PNPA graduation, Aquino asked the public – and perhaps, the PNPA Class of 2015 – for "understanding." (FULL TEXT: Aquino's speech on Mamasapano at PNPA)
Without naming names, Aquino pinned the blame on the police officials who presented Oplan Exodus to him, saying "the version of the plan presented to me convinced me that adequate preparations were made, and that it would be executed correctly."
“I also assumed that all my orders would be followed, especially since I was dealing with professionals regarding the matter,” said the President, referring to his orders for Purisima and sacked SAF chief Police Director Getulio Napeñas to coordinate with the military for the risky operation.
The SAF never did.
Instead, Napeñas only coordinated with military officials and even the police hierarchy "time on target," or only after troopers had entered the Muslim rebel bailiwick. Not knowing the details of the operation and caught off guard, the military was unable to send immediate artillery support.
A police body that investigated the operation later said Oplan Exodus was "defective" from the get go. The PNP’s Board of Inquiry (BOI) also noted that Aquino, in briefings and exchanges with Purisima and Napeñas, "did not raise any particular concern on how ‘Oplan Exodus’ may potentially put the peace agreement with the MILF at risk."
Among the casualties of the Mamasapano clash were 5 civilians and 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters. The long-awaited peace deal between the government and the MILF has since been endangered following the clash.
PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015 valedictorian Dennis Yuson Jr, who hails from General Santos city in Mindanao, said in his valedictory speech that the Mamasapano clash and the death of the SAF 44 saddened him and his classmates but said it should not deter them from the profession they chose, nor should it get in the way of promised peace in Mindanao.
Yuson, who was also elected class president of his batch, pledged support to Aquino in behalf of his class, adding that he looked up to the President during trying times.
Aquino, in his speech, also called on the PNP to rally together.
He said one of the many challenges the next PNP chief will have to solve is the "culture of factionalism within the PNP, where that guy is his guy, and that is his guy."
"We need solidarity among you, so that you may be effective protectors of our countrymen," said the President.
It’s been almost two months since Purisima resigned, and almost 4 months since Purisima’s suspension, but Aquino has yet to pick a new, full-time chief. (READ: Why the PNP needs a full-time chief now) – Rappler.com