Espina cannot be PNP chief – Aquino

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PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina cannot be appointed permanently to the top police post because such would be “disruptive,” if not contrary to existing laws that require those opting for promotion in the organization to have at least one more year in service, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said on Friday.

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In an interview with reporters at his home province of Tarlac, Aquino confirmed reports that Espina had indeed offered to resign but that he decided that he should stay on until his permanent replacement has been named.

“Director Espina is a very honorable person and he loves the institution and he loves the service, and he loves the country. He will turn 56, if I’m not mistaken, by July,” the President said.

Fifty-six is the mandatory age for retirement, leaving Espina with less than four months in the service.

Meanwhile,  Aquino said they are conducting interviews with and checks on various candidates for the top police post.

“I will beg everybody’s patience on this matter. It was not projected that we will be changing the [PNP chief] at this point . . . We were thinking that it would be at the end of 2015 where we would have to change the [PNP chief],” he added.

Espina took over from resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima, who was earlier suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged graft.

Purisima decided to quit over his involvement in planning the Mamasapano operation that left 44 elite policemen dead last Januuary 25.

Aquino said he had ordered a study of the  PNP law to determine if Espina, who has less than a year in office, can still be promoted.

Under the law, there must only be one director general of the PNP at any given time.

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