PNP surgery action, FVR-style

THIRD EYE - Ramon J. Farolan - The Philippine Star

(Last of two parts)

Last week, we provided a brief background on some of the events that led to the reorganization decision. Rather than making sweeping changes perceived as the brainchild of one man and his advisers, the consensus building mechanism of the just-concluded National Summit on Peace and Order provided the President with the necessary show of public support and, more important, the public demand for drastic solutions.

So, the surgical operation began with nine “physicians” attending to the sick patient. At the start, there were some suggestions to retire all the general officers in the group. This was discarded in favor of giving more time for senior colonels to gain additional experience and round out their career development that would provide them with a more solid background for greater responsibilities. One by one, the officers were summoned to face the committee. Those who came from the farthest regions in Mindanao and the Visayas were given priority, particularly the problem cases.

There was no standard time allotted for each individual. Some stayed only for a few minutes, others were grilled a bit more intensively. It all depended on the need for additional information or clarification of certain facts by members of the committee. A short interview could mean one of two things: Either the officer had a good, clean record and there was nothing much to clarify, or the record was terrible and there was no sense in embarrassing the officer or prolonging his agony.

A key factor not reflected in official records had to do with “service reputation.” After 20 years in the service, your colleagues have a good idea of your personality, your strengths and weaknesses. 

Immediately after interviewing an officer, a thorough discussion of his record would take place before the group would vote on him. All nine members had to be present and voting, otherwise the count would be postponed. The procedure for carrying out this exercise was to secretly check out one of two choices on a small slip of paper that contained the words “accepted” or “not accepted.” In order for a retirement application to be accepted or rejected, six votes or two-thirds of the entire committee had to be in favor of either course of action. In the event of a five-to-four vote, the decision would be set aside to await another vote later.

The balloting revealed that about 15 to 20 percent of those interviewed and voted upon received unanimous decisions from the committee. The count was nine-zero for or against the officer. The remainder had a bit more difficulty in the screening process. The voting was less decisive and at times required additional balloting.

A few with outstanding records were not called by the committee for an interview because the body wanted to concentrate their time and efforts on the borderline cases. Some of those not summoned were Senior Superintendent Miguel Coronel, chief of the former Highway Patrol Group, now renamed Traffic Management Command (TMC); Senior Superintendent Romy Acop, PNP Inspector General; Senior Superintendent Ramsey Ocampo, deputy chief, Criminal Investigation Service; Senior Superintendent Edgar Galvante, head of the PNP AVESCOM and Senior Superintendent Rex Piad, former chief of staff, RECOM IV.

One of the questions asked of those interviewed was “Who would be your choice for director general, PNP?” Four names kept coming up – two from PMA class 1961 and two from class 1962. Alphabetically, they were Percival Adiong, Roger Deinla, Pantaleon Dumlao and Umberto Rodriguez. Another interesting development was that among the senior superintendents, the names most frequently mentioned as potential or future directors general were Recaredo Sarmiento, chief of the Special Action Force, and Romeo Odi, director, Western Police District.

The deadline set by the President was met and on April 13, the names of those retained and rejected were submitted to his office. Before taking action, he gave the committee one more piece of work. He asked them to propose assignments for those retained and in consultation with Napolcom, a list of key officers of the organization was drawn up. 

In the case of the top position, chief, PNP, the President was presented with four recommendees: Percival Adiong, Pantaleon Dumlao, Umberto Rodriguez and Oscar Aquino, a police general who headed South CAPCOM. The final choice was Umberto Rodriguez, PMA class 1961 from Butuan, Agusan del Norte. He possessed an excellent record and had a reputation as a strict disciplinarian.

Pantaleon Dumlao was appointed deputy director for Operations, Oscar Aquino took over as deputy director for Administration and Percival Adiong became head of the PNP Directorial Staff. Limited national exposure, highly emotional personality – these were some of the characteristics of the competition which gave Rodriguez the edge.

Finally, the President approved the retirement of 63 officers made up of 40 senior superintendents and 23 chief superintendents, roughly one-third of the affected group.

Thirty years after FVR’s surgical operation on the PNP, the present administration sees the need for another radical course of action. Their work has just begun. But the question remains the same as before: Will any revamp accomplish its objective of revitalizing the organization and refurbishing a tarnished image? Certainly, the injection of new leadership at various levels of the PNP is always a welcome development. Our people continue to hope for the best.

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