AMID the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine National Police leadership yesterday said it is fully prepared for the retirement today, September 2, 2020, of General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and for a possible change of command ceremony in Camp Crame via Zoom, the 1st in the PNP since it was established in 1991.
Gamboa, a lawyer from Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 is marking his 56thbirthday today, 11 months after he led the 209,000-strong police force since October last year, following the resignation of his mistah, now retired Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde. Gamboa is the country’s 23rd PNP Chief.
PNP spokesman, Brigadier Gen. Bernard M. Banac said the retirement honors for Gamboa and the possible change of command ceremony will be held at the PNP Multi-Purpose Center in Camp Crame although it is subject to the availability of President Rodrigo Duterte as guest of honor and speaker and the presiding officer during the event.
Banac said all invited officials will join the ceremony via video teleconferencing following quarantine restrictions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. All PNP past 22 PNP chiefs have taken their oath of office before the President. Since it was created in 1991, Philippine presidents starting from the late Corazon C. Aquino have sworn in their chosen PNP chiefs and led PNP Change of Command ceremonies in Camp Crame.
The last time there was a real Change of Command in Camp Crame was during the time Duterte swore in Gen. Albayalde as the 22nd PNP chief vice now Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa.
Gamboa only officially assumed the command of the PNP after being taking his oath of office before Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año in Camp Crame followed by a simple oath-taking in the presence of the firebrand former Davao City mayor in Calabarzon region. Since that, all public ceremonies have been stopped as part of the measures to help prevent the further spread of the deadly virus.
“All health standards and safety protocols will be strictly observed. At the moment, we are closely monitoring our communication lines with the Office of the President for further guidance and instructions,” the PNP spokesperson said.
Amid a number of speculations on who will be the next Chief,PNP, Banac said they rest the decision on the hands of Duterte who is also the Commander-in-Chief and will fully abide by his decision and support his pick.
“The PNP submits to the better judgment and freehand of the Chief Executive to exercise his prerogative of appointing the Chief PNP as provided by law,” Banac said.
Banac said members of the PNP Command Group are among those in line to succeed Gen. Gamboa.
They are PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, Lieutenant Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan, another member of PMA Class 1986 who is currently the commander of the Administrative Support to COVID-19 Operations Task Force; PNP Deputy Chief for Operations and commander of the Joint Task Force COVID-19, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar; and PNP Chief of Directorial Staff, Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne R. Binag.
Both Lt. Generals Eleazar and Binag are members of PMA ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987.
Highly-reliable Journal Group sources said the other ‘Chief,PNP-tiables’ are National Capital Region Police Office director, Maj. Gen. Debold M. Sinas; PNP Director for Operations, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Luis D. Licup; and the youngest of them all, Police Regional Office 4-A director, Brigadier Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr.
Sinas and Licup are also members of PMA Class 1987 while Danao belong to PMA ‘Sambisig’ Class of 1991.
Retired and active senior police officials said the Chief,PNP must possess the competency and integrity to handle the job as he will be answerable to both the PNP’s internal and external audience.
The PNP chief likewise should have the dogged determination to do the job, the needed track record and service reputation, a ton of contribution to the country’s peace and order campaign, and most importantly, the loyalty to the Constitution and the duly-constituted authorities.
The PNP law says that the President, as the Commander-in-Chief shall appoint the PNP chief from among a list prepared by the Napolcom of ‘the most senior and qualified officers in the service” given that the prospect appointee has not yet retired or within six months from their compulsory retirement age.
The law also says that the “lowest rank of a qualified appointee shall be the rank of Police Brigadier General. As PNP chief and an Ex Officio member of the Napolcom, the Chief,PNP is given the power to command and direct the police force.
His so-many powers include “the power to direct and control tactical as well as strategic movements, deployment, placement, utilization of the PNP or any of its units and personnel, including its equipment, facilities and other resources.”
The buzz in Camp Crame is that Lt. Gen. Cascolan may be designated as PNP Officer-in-Charge by President Duterte until his retirement this coming November 11 or even until the end of the year before he picks a permanent PNP chief.
Lt. Gen. Cascolan has proven his worth in the past and is even credited with being the ‘brains’ behind the successful war on drugs of the police force since the start of the Duterte administration. However, his only setback is his age.
Eleazar will retire on November 13, 2021 while Binag will bow out of the service on May 24next year.
Sources said that Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año has not recommended the extension of Gamboa’s term after September 2. He also said that if he were to decide, the next PNP chief must have a good career pattern with no pending case in court.
“He must be credible with a good career pattern and meritorious record, senior and no pending case in court. But the President has the prerogative to choose any general even outside the shortlist,” Año said.