MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino vowed yesterday to remove any doubts the people may have over the capability of the Philippine National Police amid criticism of the bungled hostage crisis last Aug. 23, as he ordered newly installed PNP chief Deputy Director General Raul Bacalzo to eliminate corruption and intensify the fight against crime.
“We will take away the scars of doubt of the people, not only in the police force but in the whole government. After six years, I assure you that only honest and straight service will be the legacy of my term – not corruption, not greed, not a shadow of any tragedy of the past,” Mr. Aquino said in his speech at the turnover of command rites held at PNP headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Bacalzo took over from PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa who availed of early retirement.
“In the name of our people and the country, let us rise and continue what we have started together. Let us not stop. Let us continue our steps on the right path. This is my marching order to everyone,” Mr. Aquino said.
The President also vowed to address the needs of police officers as he asked Bacalzo to institute the necessary reforms, especially in the bidding process for equipment and other needs of the police.
He said during his visit to the National Capital Regional Police Office’s headquarters at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig, he inspected police equipment and “was not happy” with what he found.
Mr. Aquino stressed that there should be high standards to be followed in purchasing firearms and other equipment.
“There is not one (set of) standards so it complicates things – the training, the logistics, etc. He (Bacalzo) will be constituting a reform of the process that will ensure that we get the most value for the monies that are spent for the PNP and get what is needed for our personnel – be it equipment or training,” Mr. Aquino said.
Mr. Aquino said the PNP must also stop crime-related violence.
“I think I mentioned to you probably (Monday), focus on this gang that preys on our tourists and our balikbayans coming from the airport, the ongoing fight against drugs – the seriousness of this problem also is on the top of the priority list, the hold-ups, carjacking, etc. are all also on top of the list,” Mr. Aquino said.
“I think he (Bacalzo) has already stated in his speech that there will be a return to basics, there will be retraining for everybody,” Aquino said.
Mr. Aquino brushed aside criticisms against Bacalzo, saying it seemed to have become a tradition to attack prospective PNP chiefs.
“I will challenge all of you, look for any change of command ceremony and activity, be it the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) or the PNP, there will always be certain quarters that would be grumbling – it’s like a tradition already. So is it real or manufactured? I’m more inclined to think it’s manufactured,” Mr. Aquino said.
Bacalzo vowed to work hard and render honest service and policing anchored on the basic tenets of human rights.
“As I take on this challenge, I ask of every member of the PNP only the same thing I have promised to give, hard work and honest service. That is all we need to do our job and do it well,” Bacalzo said in his speech .
Bacalzo said police service will surely be filled with challenges, but also with chances of addressing wrong practices and strengthening the capability of the 130,000 PNP members.
“As we take stock of where we are, I see that the challenges we face are opportunities for us to review our policies and implement practical action plans,” Bacalzo added.
Bacalzo pointed out that upholding human rights is tied with implementing police operational procedure properly. “Shortcuts and lapses can and do lead to violations of basic human rights.”
He said that training and re-training on the basics will be done up and down the ranks while basic equipment must also be reviewed for street policemen as well as special units for different types of crisis situations.
“With appropriate support, we will equip our men and women with the training and the resources to handle local problems and provide appropriate solutions,” he said. “Every police station must be at the cutting edge of performance and professionalism.”
The President praised Verzosa for the reforms he instituted at the PNP and for his integrity, sincerity and principles that prevailed amid a lot of criticisms and politicking.
Mr. Aquino said it was important to bring back the discipline and good manners in “Mamang Pulis” (Mr. Policeman).
“We will bring back the image of trust and security
in your ranks. We will push away fears and doubts in your institution. We will do this using a system wherein those who serve well within our laws will be rewarded while the crooked in the service will be punished,” Mr. Aquino said.
“I stand firm with the PNP: I expect the PNP to work hand in hand with every Filipino in stamping out crime while we take the straight path right within your ranks,” the President said.
He said the goodness of the institution would start in the right orientation of its leadership.
“This was what guided General Verzosa to be a decent PNP chief during the time of the elections. And I am with the whole nation in hoping that General Bacalzo will continue to spread professionalism, integrity, discipline and valor in the whole of the police ranks,” Mr. Aquino said.
But Aquino said all the good deeds of the police would mean nothing if their needs would not be met.
“It is unacceptable that many police officers still live below the poverty line and have no decent home. It is wrong for us to expect an effective police force when the equipment is substandard and the training leads to failure in fulfilling their duties. I will say it again: it is not right to oppress those who show concern,” Aquino said.
Outgoing PNP chief urges unity
Verzosa urged yesterday all police officers to rally behind the new police leadership to ensure continuity of command and effective management of the organization.
He assumed office on Sept. 27, 2008 and was supposed to retire on Dec. 25 but opted to avail of early retirement.
“Now that the President has appointed a new chief PNP, I expect everyone to support the new leadership and carry on with the finest tradition of service, honor and justice in the PNP,” Verzosa said.
Verzosa said his early retirement would give younger officers the chance to assume key positions in the PNP. He leaves with an unprecedented 70.72 percent public satisfaction rating posted by the PNP in May 2010.
He described Bacalzo as a humble person, a low-key operator and seasoned lawyer-investigator who always cracks any case assigned to him.
“He is a man of unsullied reputation who has never been involved in any serious controversy,” Verzosa said.
Bacalzo, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1977, is the PNP deputy chief for operations, the No. 3 man in the police force.
Upon graduation from the PMA, Bacalzo served in a series of assignments as company commander to the Philippine Constabulary in Mindanao and Luzon, namely, the 544th PC Company in Basilan, the 233rd PC Company in Cavite City and the 189th PC Company in Nueva Ecija.
Bacalzo was a consistent honor student in his hometown of Tuy, Batangas. He married Librada Granados, a nurse, in 1979 and they have four children – Karl Josef, Eliseo Raul, Raul Jr. and Maria Gracia.
He finished his bachelor of laws degree from the University of the East and placed 12th in the 1984 Bar examinations.
Aurea Calica, Philippine Star