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Espina: PNP needs new chief

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) needs a new chief, its acting chief said on Thursday, February 5.

In an ambush interview with reporters on Thursday, Police Deputy Director Leonardo Espina agreed with the sentiment of many who think it’s time for Malacañang to appoint a new chief of the 150,000-strong police force.

Asked by reporters if the PNP needs a new chief, Espina said, “Yes.” He did not elaborate.

The police general on Thursday, February 5, called a Command Conference with the chiefs of the PNP’s national support units and regional offices.

Espina took over the PNP after its chief, Director General Alan Purisima was ordered suspended by the Ombudsman over an alleged anomalous deal between the Firearms and Explosives Office and a courier company. (READ: What's in a word? Acting vs OIC PNP chief)

Espina, who is also the PNP’s Deputy Director for Operations, said his powers as OIC were limited. Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II had previously said that as OIC, Espina would get the "full powers" of a PNP chief. (READ: PNP unaffected by chief's suspension – Roxas)

The police general's announcement comes almost two weeks after a bloody police operation in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao that claimed the lives of 44 elite policemen on January 25. 

Although the PNP is still conducting a probe into the operation, news reports and Rappler sources have indicated that it was Purisima who had the intelligence reports for the operation against Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as "Marwan."

Purisima had also apparently given the green light to the operation as early as November 2014, or before his suspension.

While he is suspended, Purisima is not supposed to have an active role in the PNP.

However, according to relieved PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commander Police Director Getulio Napeñas, he was reporting to both Purisima and Espina during the January 25 operation. (READ: Purisima on top of Mamasapano operation – sacked SAF chief)

Napeñas, however, only informed Espina about the operation when it was over and while the SAF troopers were locked in a firefight with rebel forces. (READ: 'Purisima orders PNP generals out of the loop')

Purisima has yet to address the allegations against him. 

The 6-month suspension order against Purisima will lapse in June 2015. Purisima, however, has at least two more cases against him pending before the Ombudsman. – Rappler.com