“Thank God, I survived. All I ask is to keep praying for me,” was the humble yet triumphant message of the newly installed 23rd Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Police General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, during his Thanksgiving celebration last Saturday, February 1, 2020 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.
And that message truly captures the essence of who our new PNP Chief is – one who is strong in his faith that the only source of real power is God’s grace.
There were three contenders for PNP chief. While the public heard a lot from the two others, Gamboa quitely and unassumingly did his job as Officer-in-Charge and refused to even talk about why he should get the post. This reminds us of one of the famous parables in the Bible: “So the last will be first and the first will be last.”
A lot of the stuff written and said about Gamboa so far have not featured his most important quality as a leader – his character.
No less than the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President, Davao Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, said: “It is with appreciation and thanksgiving to the Lord that I welcome the appointment of a PNP chief who practices his Catholic faith. It is not only good for the PNP, it is good for the country.”
This is a big deal coming from CBCP’s leader especially in the light of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s contentious relationship with the Catholic Church and the current public image crisis the PNP faces as an institution.
Presiding over last Saturday’s thanksgiving mass, Archbishop Valles, drawing parallelisms from the gospel that talked about purification, described Gamboa as having “a fire inside him but manifests as a gentle light of a candle.”
The gospel of purification reflects the journey of Gamboa to his eventual appointment as PNP Chief. President Duterte took a while to make up his mind and there were many trials and intrigues along the way. One of the most painful of the trials was shared by Gamboa’s son, Tym, as he led the toast to his father last Saturday. Tym talked about how some people tried to insinuate that there was corruption involved in PNP’s procurement, a system that has been mastered, fixed and made efficient by his father as head of its Bids and Awards Committee. This was an attempt to discredit Gamboa and prevent him from becoming PNP Chief. In the end, the truth prevailed and good triumphed over evil.
Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa could not be prouder of Gamboa, his classmate in the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986.
“When I became PNP Chief, it was only then when I truly appreciated Archie’s talent and skills in administrative matters and procurement,” Senator Bato said.
He said leading the PNP requires a delicate balancing act between operations and administration. With the current crisis being faced by the PNP involving corruption within its ranks, a leader who has the character and credibility to implement meaningful changes in the organizational system and culture is what is needed to rebuild its public image and regain the people’s trust.
“With Archie there, we can all sleep soundly knowing the PNP is in good hands,” the former PNP Chief turned senator confidently declared. Gamboa is taking his leadership role seriously. He only has seven months until he retires from the service and he announced that his calendar and “to do” list are all laid out for every single day until retirement with no time to waste.
He is grateful that under President Duterte, the PNP Chief is “given a free hand to run PNP with little or no intervention from Malacañang or the Department of Interior and Local Government.”
Archbishop Valles and the rest of the Filipino people look forward to a new and improved PNP that will become a gentle light against the darkness of lawlessness, violence, and corruption. (Photos by Inigo Agustin).
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