After taking flak for allegedly coddling his “bosom friend” Alan Purisima at the height of the infamous Mamasapano incident early this year, President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday challenged the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to put an end to the so-called “bata-bata” system.
In his speech after presiding over the turnover of command of the PNP in Camp Crame (Quezon City), the President admitted that he personally experienced being at the center of the “bata-bata” or patronage system as he witnessed how several sectors have resorted to mudslinging in order to convince him to consider their bet for the post.
He then apologized to those who “have waited for very long for his announcement of the new PNP chief.”
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd on Tuesday announced the appointment of Director Ricardo Marquez as the next director-general of the PNP in light of impending retirement of Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.
Espina was named officer-in-charge of the PNP after Purisima was ordered suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with a graft case accusing him as having a hand in the allegedly anomalous courier service contract in the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO).
Purisima, a junior officer in the Presidential Security Group during the first Aquino administration, has reportedly endeared himself to the then First Son who less then two decades later became the nation’s President.
Purisima and the former chief of the FEO, Director Raul Petrasanta, who was rumored to have been the original choice to be the next PNP chief, were dismissed from the police service by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Petrasanta tried at the last minute to have the ruling judicially reversed but the Court of Appeals turned down his petition.
The President also on Thursday openly admitted that Marquez was not his original choice, saying the officer who was considered a “shoo-in” for the position was no longer qualified even as a contender.
“We expected the turnover in November or December but with the untimely departure of [Purisima] because of his suspension, even I was placed in an extraordinary situation. One who is known to me who could have possibly been named for the position can no longer be done because he is not anymore qualified as a contender. That’s why we resorted to seniority,” the President explained in Filipino.
Aquino said some officials were engaged in mudslinging during the selection process, prompting him to have the rumors and propaganda that had circulated investigated.
The President added that he had directed Marquez to get rid of factions and unite the PNP.
“Remove and punish the crooks and reward those who are straight so that they will get inspired,” he directed Marquez, who was also told to ensure clean and peaceful elections next year.