Marcos Jr. administration

Marcos’ intelligence chief Ricardo de Leon: Where he stands on security issues

Jairo Bolledo

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Marcos’ intelligence chief Ricardo de Leon: Where he stands on security issues

NEXT NICA DIRECTOR. Retired PNP general Ricardo de Leon is the next director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

Philippine Public Safety College

A former PNP general, De Leon is no stranger to the Marcoses – he once served as an aide of Senator Imee Marcos

MANILA, Philippines – Incoming president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has named retired Philippine National Police (PNP) general Ricardo de Leon as director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

De Leon is currently the president of the Philippine Public Safety College, appointed to the post by then-president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in 2014. The PPSC is responsible for the training of police officer cadets, police rookies, fire, and jail personnel. 

De Leon was tasked to head the college after Aquino fired then-PPSC president Ruben Platon after Platon had a misunderstanding with then-PNP Academy director Chief Superintendent Noel Constantino. Constantino was also replaced. 

Major posts he has held

De Leon is an alumnus of the Philippine Military Academy and a member of the “Matatag” Class of 1971. His classmates included former PNP chief and outgoing Senator Panfilo Lacson and former senator Gregorio Honasan II.

The retired police general holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and a master’s degree in management from the Philippine Christian University. De Leon also earned his PhD in peace and security studies from the Bicol University.

During his police career, De Leon reached the second highest position in the PNP – deputy director general. Before his retirement in 2005, he was appointed as the commander of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force in 2004 during the administration of president Gloria Arroyo.

After retiring from the police service, he was appointed as president of the Mindanao State University – the first non-Muslim and non-Mindanaoan to hold the post. He later served as the executive vice president of the Centro Escolar University. 

Marcos’ intelligence chief Ricardo de Leon: Where he stands on security issues
Why his appointment matters
  • De Leon is no stranger to the Marcoses. The incoming NICA director is a long-time aide of Senator Imee Marcos, the elder sister of the president-elect.
  • As the Marcos family flew out of the country during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, then-Lieutenant Colonel De Leon accompanied Imee in leaving the Philippines on board a United States Air Force plane.
  • As a trusted police officer of the Marcoses, De Leon’s appointment as NICA director is beneficial to the next administration because he will now oversee the agency “responsible for coordinating all government activities relative to national intelligence.”
  • De Leon would also play a big role in the government’s anti-insurgency measures because NICA sits as a member of the NTF-ELCAC.
  • The incoming NICA director would also play a big role in enforcing the highly controversial anti-terror law. The draconian law gives power to NICA to recommend to the anti-terror council “the filing of application for the proscription of terrorist organizations, associations, or groups of persons.”
Where he stands on key issues
  • Red-tagging. In an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel, De Leon claimed that state forces, which include the military and the police, do not resort to red-tagging. He said exiled Communist Party of the Philippines’ founder Jose Maria Sison is the one doing it. (However, high-ranking officials of the government, including outgoing National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. was accused of red-tagging. Former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict spokesperson and retired military general Antonio Parlade Jr. is also notorious for red-tagging people critical of the government.) 
  • NTF-ELCAC. De Leon expressed support for the controversial NTF-ELCAC and said the government should sustain it. He claimed the anti-insurgency task force was one of the most effective anti-insurgency tools of the government. (However, out of the 2,000 projects spearheaded by the NTF-ELCAC, only 26 of them were completed. This means only 1% of the projects were completed by the task force.)
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  • Blocking of news websites. On Esperon’s latest move to block the websites of Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, De Leon said he believes the National Telecommunications Commission would not grant the request without supporting evidence. (Legal experts, including retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, have pointed out that the move has legal infirmities.) 
  • West Philippine Sea. On the issue of Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, De Leon said the government must integrate and harmonize its efforts. He put emphasis on the modernization of the military to improve its intelligence capabilities. 
  • Local governments. The incoming intelligence director said he would tap the local government units, believing that engaging communities will strengthen domestic intelligence. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.