Journal News Online : People watching for President BBM’s choice of PNP, AFP leaders

By Alfred P. Dalizon | Journal News Online

RIGHT now, Filipinos are watching the men and women who have accepted President-elect Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.’s offer for them to join his Cabinet as well as those who are set to be given the chance by the incoming Commanding-in-Chief to join his Unity Team.

There is also a watch on who will be the PNP chief under President Bongbong once he officially takes over the presidential palace this coming June 30. That police general will make history as the 1st to command the 225,000-strong police force under President BBM. The question actually right now is will the hardworking PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant General Vic Danao Jr. of PMA ‘Sambisig’ Class of 1991 be finally appointed as Chief,PNP by BBM or not?

If the principle of seniority would be followed by the President-elect, there are a number of 3-star police generals led by Lt. Gen. Danao (the PNP-OIC is retiring on August 10, 2023) who can be considered for the top PNP post. The others who are really qualified for the post are Lt. Generals Rhodel Sermonia and Jun Azurin, both from PMA ‘Makatao’ Class of 1989, who will be retiring from the force on January 26, 2024 and April 24, 2023 respectively.

However, it should be noted that the law says that the Commander-in-Chief may choose the PNP chief from any official with the rank of 1-star or Brigadier General and up.

My friends have been telling me that BBM won’t be having a hard time picking his 1st Chief,PNP since he has many trusted aides who can give him the best recommendation since they know the ins and outs of the police force and its officials.

As I have been saying time and time again, the good service reputation, the solid character and traits and the performance of the candidates from their Lieutenant, Captains and Major days and up will play a major role in their selection. Other factors include loyalty to the country and the Constitution and of course, the dogged determination to carry out the tough task of being the Chief,PNP which I always believe is the 2nd most powerful post in the country, next to the President.

Call it destiny too. Many trusted friends have also told me that one of President-elect BBM’s most trusted men and the one who literally led his campaign security is a member of PMA ‘Matikas’ Class of 1983, retired Police Chief Superintendent Roman ‘Popong Felix.

I have known Gen. Felix as a silent, honest and unassuming officer. He was a former director of the Police Security and Protection Group in Camp Crame who went on to become a Police Regional Office 1 director in Ilocos-Pangasinan region.

A known helicopter pilot, Gen. Felix also used to be an Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office director during the time when BBM was the provincial governor. Thus, it is understandable that the native of Tuguegarao City in Cagayan will be one of BBM’s ‘eyes and ears’ in the PNP and even in the Armed Forces.

Speaking of the AFP, the question is will BBM replace the present AFP chief of staff, General Andres Centino of PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 who will only retire from the force in February 2023, his 56th birthday.

The question has been raised after President Duterte signed into a law Republic Act No. 11709 which ensures a 3-year term for the AFP chief, ending a ‘revolving door’ policy that gave rise to AFP chiefs of staff who served for only a few months before they mandatorily retired from the service.

RA 11709 intended to strengthen the merit system of the AFP and ensure continuity of its programs and policies. One of its most important provisions is the creation of fixed terms for its key officers.

The new law states that the AFP chief of staff, Vice Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, the Commanding Generals of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the AFP Inspector General and the chiefs of the AFP Unified Commands will now have fixed terms of three years, regardless of age and unless their appointment is “terminated sooner by the President.

The new law also gave the Superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy a fixed term of four years regardless of age. However, it also prohibits the extension of the tour of duty of the officers listed above although it says that the tour of duty of the Chief of Staff can be extended only “in times of war or other national emergency declared by Congress.”

I hope and pray that under BBM, Congress will also pass a similar law giving a fixed term to the Chief,PNP to allow real continuity of his programs and policies. Come to think of it but four previous PNP chiefs were not given the full chance to carry out their noble programs due to their very short tenure.

Generals Debold Sinas and Gilor Eleazar of PMA ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987 and Gen. Dionards Carlos of PMA Class 1988 each were only given six months to lead the PNP. Another, Gen. Pikoy Cascolan of PMA ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 only was a 2-month Chief,PNP.

In the case of Generals Sinas, Eleazar and Carlos, they only had 24 weeks to lead the Monday flag-raising rites at Camp Crame and visit the 17 regional police offices as well as the different provincial offices and city and municipal police stations while carrying out their respective programs.

In the case of Gen. Cascolan, he only had eight short weeks to lead the PNP while dreaming big of having an ambitious PNP program come into fruition. That’s the problem we will always encounter when we have a PNP chief for weeks or months only. I hope that President. BBM will finally be able to address this matter.

THANK YOU GOD FOR THE GIFT OF LIFE

Last Tuesday, I spent nearly 10 hours at the emergency room of The Medical City in Pasig after I experienced sharp, cramping pain in my back and right side of the body. Thanks to the TMC doctors and nurses, the pain subsided after I was given some intravenous medication.

A subsequent CT scan and urinalysis showed some small kidney stones caused the pain. Right now, I’m under medication and I hope the problem will be over by next month. While on our way home on board a Grab taxi, my wife Candy suddenly told me that May 24 was also the day I survived a gun attack in San Juan City.

Yes, it was on the afternoon of May 24, 1999 when six motorcycle-riding men ambushed me in San Juan City while I was on my way to Camp Crame. Luckily, the weapons’ training I got from my policemen-friends enabled me to return fire at my attackers and hit one of them with my reliable .45 pistol. That guy died in the hospital.

A San Juan City policeman named Sergeant Neil Torres also came to my rescue when he fired at my attackers a few meters away from where I was being shot. Neil was shot in his foot while I suffered a gunshot wound in my right shoulder. Two caliber .45 bullets were also found at the headrest of my car whose five windshields were shattered by gunfire.

It was 23 years ago when the Lord Almighty saved me from death to enable me to build a happy family, continue my profession , get more friends and most importantly, help others the best way I can. That’s the only way I can repay the Good Lord.