I HEARD from many high-level sources that although President Duterte last May had announced that Armed Forces chief and Mindanao martial law administrator General Eduardo Año will be the next secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, the 4-star general who will be retiring from the service this coming October may not really become the next SILG.
That is if the President will follow Republic Act 6975 or the DILG Act of 1990 signed into law on December 1990 paving the way for the creation of the DILG and PNP. Section 8 of RA 6975 says this:
“Head of Department. – The head of the Department. – The head of the Department, hereinafter referred to as the Secretary, shall also be the ex-officio Chairman of the National Police Commission and shall be appointed by the President subject to confirmation of the Commission on Appointments. No retired or resigned military officer or police official may be appointed as Secretary within one (1) year from the date of his retirement or resignation.”
Several lawyers-friends from the government told me that unless repealed by Senate, the law clearly says that no retired or resigned military or police officer may be appointed as DILG secretary within one year from the date of his retirement or resignation. It means that whoever will be the powerful DILG secretary must not be a newly-retired PNP or AFP general.
The new DILG chief plays a very crucial role in the maintenance of peace and order in the country, he having complete power over the PNP, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Fire Protection. He also plays a very important role in the enforcement of martial law in Mindanao to arrest threats posed by ISIS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
Retiring from the military service this coming October at the age of 56, Año of Philippine Military Academy Class 1983 actually could become the 2nd chief of staff in Philippine history to head the DILG after the later Gen. Angelo Reyes who served as DILG chief from 2004-2016 during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Año ‘s case however would be very different with that of Angie Reyes. Gen. Reyes was the AFP chief from 2000 to 2001 under President Joseph Estrada but at the height of the 2001 EDSA People Power, he withdrew his support for Estrada which led to the installation of then Vice President Macapagal-Arroyo as president.
Reyes was sworn in as Defense secretary two days after retiring as the AFP’s 27th chief of staff, meaning he was not immediately designated as DILG chief by Macapagal-Arroyo. Reyes served as a Macapagal-Arroyo cabinet secretary until 2010. Sad to say, the brilliant general who was the DILG chief from 2004 to 2006 took his own life on February 8, 2011 after being accused of corruption and being humiliated by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in public. That was a sad chapter in Philippine history and one which caused majority of Filipinos, Peemayers included to ‘ostracize’ Trillanes.
At present, the DILG has an Officer-in-Charge in the person of top PMA Class 1981 graduate, retired Police Director-turned Undersecretary Catalino ‘Litoy’ Cuy who was named as overseer of the agency by President Duterte after he fired DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno in April.
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ON EXTENDING SERVICE OF RETIRING POLICE GENERALS
Section 39 of RA 6975 also says that the ‘compulsory retirement, for officer and non-officer, shall be upon the attainment of age fifty-six (56): Provided, That, in case of any officer with the rank of chief superintendent, director or deputy director general, the Commission may allow his retention in the service for an unextendible period of one (1) year.”
Meaning, the National Police Commission which is chaired by the DILG secretary may extend the service of a retiring police general for an unextendible period of one-year only. I’m saying this in the wake of rumors in Camp Crame that President Duterte will most likely extend the services of Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino, a member of PMA Class 1985 who is currently the Police Regional Office 3 director in Central Luzon.
Aquino is actually set to retire this coming September 6, the day he will reach the compulsory retirement age of 56 but many officials have whispered to me that he will most likely be extended by the President. If that happens, Aquino, one of the senior police officers who have served with President Duterte when he was still the Davao City mayor, will become the 1st police general to be extended by the President.
That decision may be questioned by the others but as they say, who can question the presidential prerogative. Besides, other Presidents have also extended the term of their favorite Regional Directors in the past and thus, it would not be the 1st in PNP history. Besides, I was told that Aquino is really a hardworking official who is trying his very damn best to rid Central Luzon of drugs, crime and corruption.