THERE is still no official word on who will be the next Philippine National Police chief as of yesterday afternoon, barely just hours before General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa retires from the police service at the age of 56.
The guessing game however is: will PNP Deputy Chief for Administration Lieutenant Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan be designated by President Duterte as PNP Officer-in-Charge or will the Commander-in-Chief appoint a permanent PNP chief vice Gen. Gamboa?
“Everything’s silent. We have no information on what will happen on Wednesday,” a police star-rank official told the Journal Group on condition of anonymity.
The buzz in Camp Crame is that Lt. Gen. Cascolan may be designated as PNP-OIC 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.
All 17 police regional office directors and chiefs of national operational and administrative support units have been advised to be on standby for a virtual turnover of command tomorrow. It means that police officials assigned in the provinces and regions will be watching the proceedings via zoom as part of the PNP’s effort to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the force.
PNP spokesman Brigadier Gen. Bernard M. Banac maintained that all preparations are in place for the retirement of Gen. Gamboa for a possible change of command ceremony in Camp Crame.
Gen. Gamboa, a lawyer from Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 will be marking his 56th birthday on Wednesday after leading the 209,000-strong police force since October last year, following the resignation of his mistah, now retired Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde. He is the country’s 23rd PNP Chief.
Banac said the retirement honors for Gen. Gamboa and the possible change of command ceremony will be held at the PNP Multi-Purpose Center in Camp Crame on Wednesday subject to the availability of President 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 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 everything is up to the President 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.
The PNP spokesperson said that members of the PNP Command Group are among those in line to succeed Gen. Gamboa. They are Lt. Gen. 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 that 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, a former Davao City police chief belong to PMA ‘Sambisig’ Class of 1991.