Today, Monday, April 24, 2023, the term of Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Rodolfo Azurin will end as he turns 56 years old. Under the law, anybody who is a member of the PNP is retired upon reaching that age. And that goes to those in the organization’s highest echelon.
By this time, the President may have already chosen and appointed Azurin’s replacement. That is, if he will not extend his term by the powers vested upon him. As every well-meaning Filipino knows, the President is the commander-in-chief of all the uniformed service in the country.
As far as we know, the top contenders for the highest position of the PNP consisted of five or six police generals with 3- or 2-star ranks. But again, the President is not barred by law from appointing anyone in the lower level generals to become the PNP chief. It is his total confidence and trust in the person that matters.
But again, the President can always do away with the seniority rule and select the right man for the job.
Of the five or six senior Police generals, we have it from reports in Manila that at least two are now out of the running.
One is recommended for suspension because the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) implicated him in the alleged cover-up in the investigation of a multi-billion pesos illegal drugs bust. The other is reportedly facing an administrative charge for certain reported infractions in the performance of duty.
One of the remaining 3-star generals for the President to choose from is Lt. Gen. Michael John F. Dubria, an Ilongo by ethnic origin but born, raised, and studied in Davao City. We assumed his parents may have migrated to Davao from his home province in Western Visayas. We had been rooting for him, hoping he could be the second Davaoeño to assume the top PNP post after now Senator Ronald dela Rosa.
We have not met the General in person, not even once. But we have been monitoring his activities when he was assigned specific commands or administrative functions. And we only know of one area where he was unfairly blamed for an alleged security lapse.
But ranged against the totality of the good things (security as well as peace and order-wise) that happened in places that were once under his area of responsibility, the asserted failure could only be one learning experience in police work.
It paled in comparison to the massacre of 44 members of the PNP Special Forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, under the supervision of the then-highest police officer who was, in fact, on forced leave at that time, without the knowledge of the PNP officer-in-charge.
And the President of the Philippines was the one who gave his on-leave PNP chief the responsibility and was even constantly advised of the SAF troop movement as the operation was ongoing and even during the seeming carnage of the hapless policemen.
It is our take that all the relevant information about General Dubria and the other contenders for the top police position could have already been thoroughly gone over by the President. So, if the chief executive did a critical balance between performance on the one hand and personal trust and confidence of attached friends’ recommendations on the other, then Dubria’s chances could be higher.
Our fervent hope is that he could be the one. General Dubria will surely not fail the Davaoeños.
But as we said here earlier, the President, as the appointing authority, has the sole discretion over who to appoint. And if Gen Mike is not the lucky one, being “an officer and a gentleman,” he will surely accept his fate and work with the President’s appointee.
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