Noy starts search for next PNP chief, interviews Espina, Garbo

Aurea Calica - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has interviewed Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina and directorial staff chief Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr. as part of the search for the next PNP chief to replace resigned Director General Alan Purisima.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told reporters yesterday that the President spoke with Espina and Garbo last Monday and asked for their records.

“At the right time, the President will make a decision,” Roxas said after attending the President’s meeting with the PNP and Special Action Force officials and members at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City as well as the assumption of command ceremony for the new SAF commander, Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo.

Roxas explained Aquino was also studying the legalities surrounding the appointment of a new PNP chief since Purisima has not yet retired or left the service.

“The position of chief PNP accompanies with it the four stars. Director General Purisima resigned as chief PNP but not from the PNP proper. So the designation is still with him. That is one thing that the President wants to be studied, the legalities of the appointment because based on the law, there can only be one four-star at the PNP,” Roxas said.

Espina is retiring in July while Garbo is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1981 and will obviously have enough time to initiate reforms as his retirement is still considerably far off on March 2, 2016.

There are at least five other members of PMA Class 81 in the PNP that could be considered as PNP chief but they are also about to retire in the coming months.

Garbo reportedly earned the trust of Aquino for his handling of the controversial suspension of Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia during his term as regional director of Central Visayas.

Next in line are members of PMA Class 1982 who occupy sensitive positions in the PNP.

They are Director Benjamin Magalong, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Board of Inquiry formed to investigate the Mamasapano encounter; Director Carmelo Valmoria, chief of the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO); and Director Ricardo Marquez, head of Directorate for Operations.

Valmoria, who led SAF forces that drove away Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels from Zamboanga City and restored order in Tacloban City when it was hit by massive looting after Super Typhoon Yolanda, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on July 16 this year.

Magalong and Marquez will retire in 2016, on Dec. 15 and Aug. 28, respectively.

A source said Purisima is reportedly pushing for the designation of his protégé, police Director Juanito Vaño, currently Deputy Chief for Logistics, as new PNP chief to ensure that his interests will be protected, especially with the cases he is facing.

In a televised address on Feb. 6, the President accepted the resignation of Purisima in the face of growing public anger over the deaths of 44 SAF troopers during a clash with hundreds of guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

Purisima was alleged to have led the operation by remote control even if he was serving a six-month suspension imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman over corruption allegations.

The suspension order on Purisima that was issued on Dec. 4 last year will end in June. The resigned PNP chief is set to retire in November. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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