By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has given Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año “blanket authority” to help eliminate corruption in the Philippine National Police (PNP) pending the appointment of a new police chief.
In tapping Año to clean up the police force, the President said he hopes to address a third of the corruption hounding the police institution in the remainder of his term. “I have ordered Secretary Año to make the corrections. You know, historically – historically, the police, the PNP, has always been a problem for any administration. Alam ninyo ‘yan,” he said in an interview with reporters in Malacañang.
“I have given Secretary Año the blanket authority to get rid of corruption. And it is on his shoulder the future of how the police would behave in the coming years,” he added.
Duterte admitted that he has yet to appoint a new police chief who will take the post vacated by Police Chief Oscar Albayalde. He said he believes the PNP must have a leader but admitted that the person cannot solve the problem plaguing the institution.
“Not at this time,” he said when asked if he has chosen a new police chief.
When asked if he will no longer appoint a police chief, Duterte said: “No, they should have a commander. I said, if I appoint one from them…from their ranks, he would not be able to solve the problem. He would have to need to go to court and do this and do that.”
The President had earlier raised the possibility of taking the helm of PNP if he cannot find an honest police chief. He admitted having difficulty searching for an honest person to lead the police force.
Duterte also had said he will not appoint anyone who has a single case of corruption. “I would rather not appoint anybody for that matter. Ako na maghawak (I will handle it),” Duterte said in a media interview in Malacañang last month.
A police official who can promise to kill drug lords may have a shot at becoming the next police chief, according to the President. He previously said he wanted a “better deal” from the contenders for the next police chief amid his continuing search.
Former police chief Albayalde quit his post ahead of his Nov. 8 retirement amid allegations of involvement in the drug recycling scandal. He denied the allegations.
Among the nominees reportedly recommended to take the place of Albayalde are Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, the current officer-in-charge and Deputy Chief for Administration; Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, Deputy Chief for Operations; and Maj. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, the Chief of the Directorial Staff.