BRIGADIER General Valeriano T. de Leon, the erstwhile director of the Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Office, on Thursday officially took over as the new Police Regional Office director in Central Visayas, the first member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Makatao’ Class of 1989 to be a police regional director.
De Leon replaced Brig. Gen. Debold M. Sinas who on Wednesday was installed as new National Capital Region Police Office director by PNP Officer-in-Charge Lieutenant General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa.
De Leon is the second youngest member of PMA Class 1989 after Brig. Gen. Rhodel O. Sermonia of the Police-Community Affairs and Development Group, formerly known as the Police-Community Relations Group.
Journal Group sources said that Sermonia was the main rival of de Leon for the top Central Visayas police post. Sermonia will be retiring from the police force on January 26, 2024 while de Leon will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on May 7, 2023.
“Now we are at a crossroads because of some controversies hounding the PNP but let us not be swayed by these realities because what we need now is a true and dedicated leader to lead our 190,000-strong police organization,. You know, it doesn’t’ matter who will become the next Chief,PNP. What matters is that he will be able to restore the affected image of the PNP,” de Leon said.
De Leon had made history as one of the longest-serving PNP-FEO directors. He has been the PNP-FEO chief since May 2017 or for more than 30 months before he was designated as PRO7 director.
His stint with the PNP-FEO was marred by charges hurled against him by the former PNP leadership headed by now resigned Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde regarding alleged falling revenues of the PNP-FEO.
De Leon however successfully defended himself from his accusers after presenting proof that in fact, he managed to steady and even increase the PNP-FEO revenues during his stewardship of the unit which issues and regulates licenses to firearms and explosives’ users in the country.
As PRO7 director, de Leon will be overseeing the safety and security of some seven million residents of Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor and Negros Oriental provinces where Sinas had carved a name by launching a massive crackdown against drugs, criminality, terror and corruption.
On his first day, he ordered a more aggressive campaign against illegal drugs and illegal gambling and rogues in uniform in the region.
A native of Tuguegarao City, de Leon used to be a PRO11 Deputy Regional Director for Operations in Southern Mindanao. He also served as OIC of the Davao City Police Office during the investigation of the infamous September 2, 2016 bombing of a local night market which killed 14 and injured at least 70 others.
De Leon is a brother of retired Army Gen. Benito de Leon, a member of PMA Class 1981 who, in September 2016 was appointed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as the chief of the city’s Public Safety and Security Command Center.
PNP-FEO deputy director Col. Westrimundo Obinque was designated as Officer-in-Charge of the unit. However, Journal Group sources said that being eyed to replace de Leon is a former Davao City police official, Col. Rommil Mitra, a graduate of the PNP Academy.