Once a HPG, always a HPG

January 25, 2020

I’M saying this in the wake of the decision of PNP chief  General Archie Gamboa to return Brigadier General Ely Cruz as director of the PNP Highway Patrol Group three months after the latter was relieved and transferred as deputy director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

On Friday, I joined old ‘Rider’ friends led by former HPG director, now retired Gen. Arrazad Subong in welcoming the return of Cruz, a member of PMA ‘Bigkis Lahi’ Class of 1990 to the PNP-HPG, replacing another good old friend, Brig. Gen. Dionards Carlos of PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 who has been named as new PNP Director for Information Communications and Technology Management.

There were no formal turnover ceremonies at the PNP-HPG headquarters last Friday as Dionards said he would only be ‘rebooting’ their programs. Dionards, a former PNP spokesman who eventually became a PNP Aviation Security Group and Police Regional Office 8 director in Eastern Visayas before going to the HPG last October will get his 2nd-star as DICTM director.

He only failed to get the post of PNP Maritime Group director or else, Dionards would have completed his command of ‘sea, air and land’ units in the PNP which makes him a top candidate for the PNP Special Action Force. Back to Ely Cruz, the young official thanked Gen. Gamboa for his trust and confidence on him when he returned him to his old unit.

The PNP chief’s instruction for Cruz is very simple: just do your job and well. It means that the PNP leadership had fully appreciated Cruz’ work during his very short stint at the PNP-HPG last year and would want him to be back to his old job which he had previously handled with efficiency.

A well-loved former Southern Police District director, Cruz told me he would be embarking on another much aggressive crackdown against car thieves, hijackers and highway robbers in the country and at the same time continue the PNP’s no-nonsense internal cleansing program in the HPG.

He again called on the full cooperation of his men and the community, the media included in their stepped-up campaign against criminality and rogues in uniform. As he had done last year, Cruz said he will again be implementing a strict ‘No to Kotong’ policy with HPG counter-intelligence teams to be assigned to monitor the activities of HPG personnel.

He also warned his men from using recovered stolen motor vehicles or are allowing the issuance of HPG Motor Vehicle Clearance Certificates under the illegal ‘non-appearance’ scheme.’  HPG personnel already knows it and only those who want to be fired from the police force would defy the instruction of their new director.

Cruz also ordered the dismantling of all permanent HPG checkpoints if there are any at present,  knowing fully well that these are known main source of ‘kotong’ activities. He also told me that apart from counter-intelligence agents, ‘mystery clients’ will also be deployed to check possible irregularities by his men in the field.

When he assumed the top HPG post last August, Cruz ordered the relief and filing of administrative and criminal charges against seven of his Metro Manila clearance officers for involvement in the highly-irregular ‘non-appearance’ scheme in which they issue genuine HPG clearances to vehicles even without inspecting them physically.

The official had made it very clear: there will be no ‘Non-Appearance’ scheme in the HPG wherein some erring personnel issue genuine HPG MV Clearances to vehicles without physically inspecting them.  “The  practice is highly-irregular since it could lead to the issuance of HPG clearances to motor vehicles which have been stolen thru different modes including those which have been stolen while parked unattended, stolen at gunpoint thru force and intimidation or those which have been stolen and being sold by so-called ‘Rent-Sangla, Rent-Tangay’ syndicates in the country,” he told me.

Cruz said that the  danger here is that stolen motor vehicles which were issued HPG motor vehicle clearance thru the ‘non-appearance’ scheme can be sold to innocent buyers. At the same time, he said he will go after any policemen who will be using recovered stolen motor vehicles including those recovered as a result of anti-‘Rent Sangla, Rent-Tangay’ operations, those Failed to Return MVs and those which are not under the HPG-MVIS. Good luck General.

GAMBOA DOES A PING

I commend Gen. Gamboa for doing what former PNP chief-turned Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson had done during his highly-effective stint with the PNP from 1999 until January 2001: remove officials who have defied orders for them to refrain from playing golf during working days. During his tenure, Gen. Lacson ordered the relief of a police general named Florencio Fianza who was caught playing golf in Baguio City despite his directive. That directive from Gen. Lacson made the headlines then.

I was told that after Gen. Gamboa ordered the relief of three senior police officials from Central Visayas for defying his golf ban, it seemed that the Armed Forces leadership had also followed suit and had likewise banned AFP officers from playing golf during office hours.  A friend told me that all of a sudden, he had not seen golf-playing military officers in Camp Aguinaldo and Villamor Air Base over the past few days. These two golf courses are known for being frequented by officers from both the AFP and the PNP who are Philippine Military Academy graduates before.

Before Gen. Gamboa issued his instruction on October last year, golfers from the uniformed service are known for playing a few rounds of golf in Camp Aguinaldo as soon as there is daylight and would go back to their offices before 7 in the morning. However, Gen. Gamboa’s order which was issued when he was appointed Officer-in-Charge of the PNP last October 14 has affected the ‘golfing days’ of many active officials in the military and the police force.

Many police officials told me that after Gen. Gamboa issued his directive last year, they really stopped playing golf on weekdays. However, it seemed to be that the three police officials caught deyying the PNP chief’s directive have underestimated his order and will have to pay for it as they have  been reassigned to the PNP Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit in Camp Crame while undergoing investigation for flagrant violation of a specific directive which he said is an act that constitutes grave misconduct.

Although himself is a golf player, Gen. Gamboa said he does not want the police to spend time playing golf from Monday to Friday. He also said that his decision has something to do with the “people” golf players in the PNP spend time with during their golf games specifically politicians, businessmen and other VIPs who have interests in PNP matters.

Some of my friends told me that they have also stopped playing golf even on Saturdays and Sundays and most likely would resume playing the expensive game when they retire a year or a couple of years from now. The Ladies must be clapping with this development.