Keep Eleazar

Published October 28, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

He looks like a cop, walks like a cop, talks like a cop, moves around like a cop, indeed, like the top cop that he is. But thanks to a crazy law that has produced a succession of PNP chiefs with ultra-short tours of duty, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar is leaving the service after six months.

Those months could have felt like six years under a lazy, underperforming top cop, but the incumbent is as fit as he looks in his uniform. Not a small achievement, considering how he has improved the image of the police! In the time of COVID-19 and amid a depressed economy and the supply of illegal drugs ramping up to meet unrelenting demand, is this the time to change police chiefs every few months?

How deep is the PNP bench, by the way? Unlike presidential candidates who qualify on the simplest requirements of age, citizenship, residency, and literacy, more is asked of the head of the national police. He is expected to be a manager with people skills who understands the law, the criminally minded as well as their victims, and their environment. Under a revolving-door policy, the learning curve is cruelly shortened – think of the PNP and Napolcom bureaucracy! (That kind of a boondoggle means a retiring police chief needs something like four weeks to work on and push his papers and records across acres of desks preparatory to stepping out of Camp Crame.)

The good general is stepping down – “graduating,” as he calls it – on Nov. 13. For the sake of the organization and the civilians the police are sworn to protect, and in deference to the oddly named new normal, might the Commander in Chief be persuaded to tweak the law for the sake of continuity, for a change? What’s there to lose but a counterproductive policy that goes against the grain of military efficiency and executive savoir-faire? It’s not as if the Duterte administration can take its sweet time wrapping up what PTV is already calling its “legacy;” it has eight months to work on its own exit. Eight months with a topsy-turvy poll campaign to strategize, eight months to sign off on its COVID-19 response, eight months to look like a winner and not a loser.