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No one fit to be PNP chief? 'I’d rather not appoint anybody' – Duterte

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF. President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the Joint National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and military-police command conference on November 18, 2019. Malacau00f1ang photo

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF. President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the Joint National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and military-police command conference on November 18, 2019.

Malacau00f1ang photo

Three weeks after the retirement of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde, President Rodrigo Duterte is yet to name a successor. 

Including the days Albayalde went on “non-duty status” starting on October 14, the police force has been missing a chief for one month and two weeks. 

Duterte, on Thursday, November 28, claims he’s having such a hard time choosing the right person that he’d rather leave the post vacant for longer and directly give guidance to the PNP himself.

“I would rather not appoint anybody for that matter. Ako na maghawak 'nun (I’ll handle it). I will be the one directing. Guidance and direction lang naman ako (I’ll provide guidance and direction). That is in the event I cannot find somebody I can trust,” he told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.

An 'honest man'

It’s a curious state of affairs for an organization so critical to Duterte’s banner program, the campaign against illegal drugs. In the last leadership transition, Duterte didn't leave the post leaderless for long.

After extending the term of his first PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa for 3 months, Duterte named Albayalde as Dela Rosa's successor days before his retirement in April 2018.

What’s Duterte looking for in his third PNP chief?

“Just give me an honest man, period,” he said. 

The Commander-in-Chief sounded disappointed in the PNP, alluding to controversies hounding the force, like accusations that police generals are involved in the illegal drug trade. 

Isa pa itong mga pulis. Hintay kayo diyan. (The police are another concern. You wait.) There are so many things the police has to improve on. Unless I see the very best guy there, you show me, tell me who is the best to handle the command,” he said.

Duterte’s indecision is a slap in the face for the 3 police generals recommended by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año for the top police post: PNP officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Archie Francisco Gamboa, Lieutenant General Camilo Cascolan, and Major General Guillermo Eleazar. 

The first two belong to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1986, while Eleazar belongs to the 1987 class. (READ: Careers up close: The 3 contenders for Duterte’s 3rd PNP chief)

Año has said Duterte may pick a candidate outside the 3 names. One outsider Duterte has mentioned fondly in speeches is Calabarzon police chief Brigadier General Vicente Danao Jr. Danao’s strength is his close ties with Duterte. He was Davao City police chief during Duterte’s last term as city mayor before running for president. 

Danao is a wild card because, as a 1991 graduate from the Philippine Military Academy, he’d be besting 3 upperclassmen if he is chosen by Duterte.

If the President chooses Danao, it won’t be the first time for Duterte to tap someone from a younger crop of officers. His first PNP chief, Ronald dela Rosa, was also named to the post ahead of 3 older PMA classes. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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