WHEN my family and I spent Christmas and New Year in Sydney last December, I noticed several big hand-written words on the ceiling of an old restaurant popular for serving meat pies. I took note of them and would like to share it to my dear readers.
“Life is like an orange. The harder you squeeze, the more you get.” “Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.” “It’s not the climbing to the top of the mountain that counts. It’s how many people you take with you.” And my favorite: “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the enemy to die.”
I’m writing this in the wake of the unpredictable President Duterte’s decision to appoint General Archie Gamboa as the 23rd chief of the Philippine National Police last Friday, days after giving the much-maligned force at least two public rebukes which triggered calls for the resignation of top PNP officials by some people coming from both the PNP’s internal and external audience.
However, the President has spoken and it’s time for the entire police organization to rally behind Gamboa. Just listen to these words from the President: “We have the PNP chief. I am going to appoint you as the regular PNP chief. But you and I will, you and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and I we will have a long, long, long talk first.”
According to the President, he was impressed by Gamboa’s sincerity while he served as both Officer-in-Charge and PNP Deputy Chief for Administration over the past three months. “You showed me your sincerity. And I’d like to leave you something for which you will be remembered by the country,” the President publicly told Gamboa during a gathering in Davao City.
I have known the lawyer-member of PMA ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 since his days as a middle-level officer until he rose to the top. In fact, I know him as the ‘Architect’ of dozens of graft-free and successful procurement programs in the police force since the start of the Duterte administration and was surprised when a mild blunder on the presentation of a PNP plan to buy a high-tech speed gun system prompted the President to strip the PNP of its procurement power.
To set the record straight, the PNP’s proposal was to buy a Micro Digital Photo’Video Laser Tech Speedy System which is similar to the ones being used at NLEX, SCTEX and STAR Toll and cost around P1 million although it was wrongly mistaken by some intelligence officials as an ordinary speed gun which cost about US200 abroad. I think that the PNP has sufficiently explained the ‘error’ which caused the President to appoint Gamboa as Chief,PNP. Truly, it was a vindication on the part of Gamboa.
I know Gen. Gamboa as an expert in paper work and would do very good in managing the PNP’s logistical and financial concerns. Apart from this, he has an eye for spotting problems in the way PNP operations are being done. I learned from a number of my friends from the police force that during previous talks with his commanders, the new PNP chief barked a series of instructions to prevent a repetition of the highly-embarrassing Pampanga anti-narcotics operation in 2013 which triggered the resignation of his mistah, former PNP chief, now retired Gen. Oscar Albayalde.
Among his instructions are the following: the creation of Regional Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group in all 17 police regional offices to help the Camp Crame-based PNP-IMEG headed by Colonel Ronald Lee go after rogues in uniform; the need to study the PNP policy on summary hearings; the need to amend PNP policy on operations; and the major need to evaluate the PNP watch list on drugs and rogue cops and the PNP promotion system.
With his official appointment, Gen. Gamboa, a known badminton enthusiast will be able to prove his true worth as a PNP chief until he retires this coming September 2. He actually will lead the PNP for nearly a year since he has been the PNP-OIC since last October 14 and had marked his 3rd month as PNP-OIC last January 14.
Born in Bukidnon, Gen. Gamboa first studied law at the Ateneo de Davao University before transferring to the Jose Rizal University law school and passing the Bar in 2004. Not many know it but Gamboa used to be the spokesperson of the Police Regional Office 11 based in Davao City from December 1997 to September 2002, a proof of his speaking prowess and the ability to convince the people, media included that he is speaking from the heart.
The general who is being addressed by President Duterte simply as ‘Chie or Archie’ earned his 1st star at the PNP Directorate for Logistics which he eventually commanded until he became the PNP Comptroller during the term of former PNP chief, now Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa who is also his classmate from PMA Class 1986 and the one who picked him as PNP Chief Directorial Staff in 2018.
I was told that tomorrow, President Duterte is expected to lead the assumption of PNP command and donning of rank of Gamboa as a Police Director General in Calabarzon region where the President will return to lead ongoing government efforts to help thousands of residents affected by the Taal Volcano eruption. That will mark the start of Gen. Gamboa’s 1st day as our Chief,PNP tasked to lead the organization in its intensified fight against illegal drugs, criminality, terrorism and most specifically, in pursuing the PNP’s internal cleansing program.
With his designation, expect a major reorganization of the PNP in the coming days. Under the PNP rule of succession, the incoming PNP Deputy Chief for Administration will be his mistah from PMA Class 1986, erstwhile PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Lt. Gen. Pikoy Cascolan while erstwhile PNP Chief Directorial Staff, Lt. Gen. Gilor Eleazar will be the new PNP-DCO which is the 3rd highest position in the police force.
There is still no word on who will be the incoming PNP-TCDS, the 4th highest position in the PNP although it will be a race among the PNP’s senior 2-star generals.
However, Gen. Gamboa had made it clear as early as last October that all police directors are under a 3-month probationary status and he will be judging them based on their performance on the campaign against drugs, criminality, terrorism and internal cleansing.