MANILA, Philippines - Amid the controversy and confusion over his role in the supervision of the Philippine National Police, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo has blocked the latest reshuffle in the PNP affecting 10 ranking police officers due to the absence of his approval.
Robredo’s move further caused confusion in the PNP since a number of police officers have vacated their previous positions to assume their new assignments, even before their formal turnover of command set yesterday afternoon.
Robredo, in his capacity as chairman of National Police Commission (Napolcom), sent a letter addressed to PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa the other day that no reshuffle would be implemented without his approval.
The scheduled reshuffle was triggered by the retirement of Chief Superintendent Abner Cabalquinto, head of the PNP’s Directorate for Personnel and Records Management, and Chief Superintendent Luizo Ticman, chief of the PNP’s Directorate for Logistics.
Both were classmates of Verzosa in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1976.
Cabalquinto will be replaced by Chief Superintendent Jaime Milla while Ticman would be succeeded by Chief Superintendent George Piano.
When asked by The STAR if the reshuffle would push through despite the order of Robredo, PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. refused to comment, saying he has yet to see a copy of the order.
One of the affected police officials told The STAR that the mass turnover was supposed to be scheduled at around 4 p.m. yesterday.
The same police official said they were advised “to go back to our positions and wait for further instructions.”
Most of the affected police officials have received orders terminating their previous assignment and assumption to new posts.
Robredo wrote the letter to Verzosa in connection with the grievances aired by PMA Class 1981 on the lack of qualification and training among police officials that would justify their proper designation and assignment to key positions in the PNP.
Robredo asked Verzosa to “kindly ensure that all designations and appointments comply with the provisions of Republic Act 6975, or the act establishing the PNP under a reorganized DILG, and for other purposes, as amended by the RA 8551 or the PNP Reform and Reorganization Law.”
Members of PMA Class ‘81 maintained they filed their grievance letter with Verzosa, as chairman of the PNP Grievance Committee.
In the five-page letter, PMA Class ‘81 lamented the lack of a “transparent, measurable and objective Senior Officers’ Promotion and Placement System (SOPPB) that is based on meritocracy and seniority and enforced consistently.”
“We are deeply concerned about the SOPPB unabated violations of the existing rules and regulations on the deliberation and selection process,” they said.
“Some members have redressed their grievances individually in the past. We have decided to come forward collectively to denounce the wanton disregard for the police and demand justice for the unfair treatment in the selection process and the wrongful deprivation of key positions for chief superintendents.”
The group noted the SOPPB does not operate in a transparent manner, though vacancies are indeed announced, notices reached the stakeholders and the prospective beneficiaries only after the conclusion of deliberations.
Under the rating system, the group pointed out that considerations of seniority comprised 10 percent, command and leadership competence 20 percent, field and administration experience 20 percent, geographical assignment 15 percent, service reputation 20 percent and awards, recognition and fitness 15 percent.
“We doubt the practice of these criteria... if the (SOPPB) board claims otherwise, then we beg for copies of previous evaluations in actual deliberations,” the letter added.
The group appealed to the PNP administration to investigate the anomalies in the SOPPB and conduct a thorough review of any deliberation process that endorsed the placement of the officers.
“Most importantly, we urge the current PNP administration to put an end to the malpractice that has demoralized senior police officials whose grievances are repeatedly ignored,” the letter noted.
“Every selection must follow due process to protect integrity of the promotion system,” they said.
The turnover of positions and promotions of various PNP officials comes on the heels of the impending self-retirement of Verzosa.
Verzosa, who assumed office on Sept. 27, 2008, has opted for early retirement on Sept. 15, or 101 days short of his 56th birthday on Dec. 25.
Verzosa’s early retirement was part of a plan hatched by his PMA classmates of batch 1976 to allow younger officers to assume top positions in the PNP.
But with his impending retirement, there had been struggles in the PNP as to who would replace him.
Malacañang said it will allow members of the PNP to voice out their concerns about the possible replacements for Verzosa.
“We don’t know whom the President will appoint. If they have any concerns, I would suggest that the junior PNP officials raise that up. But as of now, we don’t have any idea who the President will be appointing as the next PNP chief,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda said the President would name Verzosa’s replacement on Sept. 14.
An open letter from the PNP junior officers warned Mr. Aquino against appointing Deputy Director General Raul Bacalzo whom they accused of several irregularities in the police service.
Lacierda said Malacañang was not aware of reports that the fight for the next PNP chief had become personal but conceded the jockeying by various groups for certain candidates was understandable.
“Certainly, there are people who would like their respective official to become PNP chief,” Lacierda said. - With Aurea Calica