When 'Bato' met the 'kotong-buster'

NEXT CHIEF. Ronald dela Rosa, incoming president Rodrigo Duterte's pick for PNP chief. File photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

NEXT CHIEF. Ronald dela Rosa, incoming president Rodrigo Duterte's pick for PNP chief.

File photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

He won’t be assuming the top Philippine National Police (PNP) post until July, at the earliest, but Chief Superintendent Ronald dela Rosa is already doing his homework.

Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte’s pick for PNP chief met with Senate returnee Panfilo Lacson this week “to seek advice” and get “words of wisdom.”

Lacson, who recently secured a spot in the Senate, was PNP chief from 1999 to 2001.

After retiring, Lacson entered the Senate and eventually launched a failed bid for the presidency in 2004. He later headed the Aquino administration’s relief efforts in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

In the 2016 elections, Lacson was an adopted candidate of the Liberal Party-led “Daang Matuwid” coalition which had another Cabinet member, former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, as its standard-bearer.

“Before embarking on a gargantuan mission, I deemed it necessary to seek advice from someone who has been there, done that and was very successful in leading the PNP. Thank you, sir senator, for your words of wisdom and thank you, my dear old friend, for arranging the meeting,” Dela Rosa said in a post on his Facebook page.

Dela Rosa has a tough assignment ahead. One of Duterte’s key campaign promises is to eliminate – or “supress” – crime in 3-6 months.

Ironically, Lacson was among those who said the Davao mayor’s campaign promise was farfetched. But like Duterte, Lacson is known for his tough stand against crime, particularly against illegal drugs.

Lacson is also remembered for his efforts to stamp out corruption within the ranks of the police, earning him the moniker, "kotong-buster."

Dela Rosa may just face the same situation as Lacson upon the latter's appointment as the PNP big boss. The current PNP chief, Director General Ricardo Marquez, is not set to retire until August 2016. He will, however, tender a “courtesy” resignation to give Duterte a free hand in picking his PNP chief.

Sources earlier indicated Duterte will likely accept that resignation.

What happens to Marquez then? He can opt to go on “non-duty status,” similar to Nicanor Bartolome after President Benigno Aquino III appointed his friend, Alan Purisima, ahead of Bartolome’s retirement.

That means the rank of 4-star general – which only one person can hold – still belongs to Marquez. Dela Rosa can be promoted to the highest rank in the police force later on.

Lacson was a 2-star general when then President Joseph Estrada appointed him as PNP chief. He took on the role even if the 4-star general then, Santiago Aliño, had yet to retire. 

Dela Rosa, a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1986, has close personal and professional ties to Duterte. The Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur, native spent most of his career in Davao City, and was city director of the bustling Mindanao city from 2012 to 2013.

He will head the PNP for at least a year and 6 months, before he turns the mandatory retirement age of 56 in January 2018. Unless, of course, Duterte does an Arroyo.

In 2002, then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo extended the term of PNP chief Leandro Mendoza by a few months. With a fresh mandate in 2004, Arroyo extended the same privilege to her newly-appointed PNP chief, Edgardo Aglipay. – Rappler.com