Philippine National Police

COA questions employment of Napolcom vice chair who retired but remains in position

Jairo Bolledo

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COA questions employment of Napolcom vice chair who retired but remains in position

VICE CHAIR. Photo of Napolcom vice chair and executive officer Alberto Bernardo.

Screenshot/ PTV

(1st UPDATE) EXCLUSIVE: Napolcom vice chair Alberto Bernardo retired in 2023, but remains in his post as of writing. He says he has a fixed term.

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has asked the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to explain the employment of the sitting Napolcom vice chairperson and executive officer (VCEO) after a Rappler investigation found that he had already retired in 2023.

Specifically, COA auditors inquired about the following in relation to the employment of VCEO Alberto Bernardo:

  • Status of Bernardo’s employment and appointment and the basis for his still serving as VCEO despite his retirement
  • If Malacañang had renewed Bernardo’s appointment
  • If Bernardo claimed his terminal leave benefits after the effectivity of his retirement

Auditors also said that Bernardo’s retirement was reflected on his service record, and documents showed that there was no record of remittance to Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) life and retirement premium in Bernardo’s account from November 2023 to May 2024. Bernardo’s retirement supposedly took effect on November 1, 2023.

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The auditors also noted that Bernardo still received compensation from October 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024, which covers the period when Bernardo had supposedly retired.

In an interview with Rappler, Bernardo said they already responded to the auditors’ query. He also explained why he remains in office.

“‘Pag in-appoint naman ‘yong tao for a term of six years, kamukha ‘yong sa human rights commission…may mga nagsi-65 doon, nag-re-retire sila [sa] membership sa GSIS pero hindi ka mag-re-retire kasi [fixed] term,” Bernardo told Rappler on Wednesday, May 15.

(If a person was appointed for a term of six years, like in the Commission of Human Rights. There were people who turned 65 there and they only retired their GSIS membership, but they did not retire from their posts because of their fixed term.)

A Rappler investigation showed that Bernardo filed for retirement at age 64 in 2023, which was already approved by the GSIS. His retirement took effect last year, but he remains in his post as of writing.

Bernardo confirmed to Rappler his optional retirement, which he said, he availed of under the GSIS law, since he had already met the required years in government service. Under Republic Act No. 8291, or GSIS Act of 1997 and Presidential Decree No. 1146, retirement “may be availed [of] by those who have rendered at least 15 years of service in government and must be at least 60 years of age upon retirement.”

He explained that he availed of the optional retirement so he would have medical funds for his hospitalization.

But according to a human resources (HR) lawyer, who currently serves as HR head of a government agency, Bernardo could already be considered separated from service. Rappler consulted the lawyer to inquire about Bernardo’s case.

Aside from questions about the validity of his appointment, Bernardo’s Napolcom also faces a string of controversies. Based on an audit observation memorandum (AOM) obtained by Rappler, COA questioned P830,698.66 worth of meals, which had no proper documentation. The auditing body also questioned the P96,156.74 worth of meals and snacks served during meetings, where only one person was in attendance.

Although AOMs are not conclusive, these documents are important in flagging questionable government transactions. According to COA Circular No. 2009-006, an AOM is “a written notification to the agency head and concerned officer/s informing of the deficiencies noted in the audit of accounts, operations or transactions.” These ought to be rectified or completed.

Bernardo earlier explained that the spending flagged by the COA was used by Napolcom lawyers from the provinces investigating a P6.7-billion shabu bust in 2022. He alleged that some of the cops involved in the investigation into the multi-billion shabu haul were behind the attacks against him in relation to the meals flagged by the COA. 

The Napolcom VCEO said he had been told that cops implicated in the probe would “make a way to distract them from the investigation.” He said he was not surprised over the allegations hurled against him, adding that he already faces death threats in relation to his job.

On top of these, Napolcom employees also filed complaints against Bernardo because of the latter’s alleged untoward treatment of employees. Some of the staff complained about Bernardo’s alleged temper.

However, Bernardo said he is only being true to himself and that he speaks his mind. The Napolcom VCEO said he was not pretentious and does not sugarcoat the things he says, adding that transparency “is being mistaken as temper.” –

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Jairo Bolledo

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