FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City – No less than Director General Jesus A. Verzosa admitted over the weekend that a low morale pervades in the 120,000-strong Philippine National Police (PNP) organization, following the monumental blunders of the police in the Manila hostage-taking incident last August 23.
Speaking before Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets on Saturday afternoon, Verzosa acknowledged that the lapses of the police, which failed to avert a bloody end to the hostage drama, earned the ire of the international community.
The death of eight tourists from Hong Kong and hostage-taker, dismissed police Senior Inspector Rolando R. Mendoza, consequently portrayed a weak ability of the police to handle such sensitive incidents.
While Verzosa offered no concrete evidence of demoralization in the country’s police force, he said he can feel the low morale of the men and women in uniform.
This, he said, is the reason he has been making the rounds of police commands throughout the country in a bid to help lift the spirits of police officers.
The PNP Chief said he feels the need to keep the police force focused on effectively and efficiently performing their duties and responsibilities to the public and not be distracted by the tragic incident in Manila in rendering service.
Verzosa emphasized the need to treat the challenges that come their way in a manner that it will not affect their performance in maintaining law and order in their respective areas of assignment so that the people will continue to trust the ability of the police to ensure their safety from lawless elements of society.
He also clarified that his upcoming early retirement from the police service on Sept. 15, 2010 is not connected to the failures and lapses of the PNP during the Manila hostage-taking incident.
Verzosa explained the primary purpose of his early retirement, which is three months before he reaches the mandatory age of retirement at 56 on Dec. 25, 2010, is to allow younger generals to assume the top PNP post and introduce their bright ideas and programs on how to make further improvements in the country’s police force.
Verzosa was here to attend the testimonial parade given by cadets to two retirees from PMA Magilas Class of 1976 – Directors Cristobal Ticman and Abner Cabalquinto, who were his classmates.
PALACE WON’T STOP VERZOSA
Malacañang will not stop the early retirement of Verzosa form the PNP even though the investigation into the bungled police rescue in the August 23 hostage incident is still ongoing.
Secretary Herminio Coloma, head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, said President Aquino has already approved the plans of Verzosa to leave the service on September 14.
Verzosa, retained by President Aquino to lead the PNP even after the Arroyo government, is supposed to retire on December 25.
“We want to make clear that his early retirement was agreed upon even before the hostage taking,” Coloma said over government radio.
He said Verzosa informed the President about his plans to retire early during the start of his administration last June.
By hanging up his uniform early, Coloma said Verzosa wanted to give way to younger officers who take over the leadership of the police force.
“He made this proposal and the President has already accepted it,” Coloma said.
BISHOP: VERZOSA SHOULD RESIGN
A leader of the Roman Catholic Church zeroed-in on Director General Jesus Verzosa Sunday as the man who should resign, being the Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), over the bungled management of the Manila hostage crisis last August 23.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz of the Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese said that Verzosa should be the first one to be asked to resign since he has command responsibility of the PNP and not Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo.
“If Mr. Robredo will be asked to resign because of command responsibility, I think the individual who should resign is PNP Chief Verzosa in whose command responsibility is the entire PNP force,” Cruz said.
Cruz went on to say that if the principle of command responsibility is to be strictly followed, the two other officials that should also resign are DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno and President Aquino.
“It was interestingly said that the hostage crisis was entrusted directly to Rico Puno and thereby the DILG Secretary was kept out of this issue,” said the prelate.
“Mr. Puno subsequently said that he did not know anything about hostage-taking and others say that together with the President, he only knows target shooting. This is understandable because the President and Puno are friends and consequently could have him in immediate thought whom to assign for the hostage drama,” added Cruz.
He said he was not out to defend Robredo rather he is just using logic.
“I’m not defending Robredo but I’m just thinking that by logic and reason these people have the command responsibility,” Cruz said. “It seems Robredo was left out of the loop.” (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling and Leslie Ann G. Aquino)
Dexter See, Manila Bulletin