Malacañang is in no rush to appoint a new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) following the suspension of Director General Alan Purisima since the organization can still efficiently run with an officer-in-charge (OIC) at the helm.
“There is no timetable set… the appointment of an OIC is to ensure the continuous service of the national police,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in an interview on Sunday.
He stressed that the appointment of Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina should not cause confusion or anxiety, especially with regard to President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s admission that the search for a new PNP chief is ongoing.
“It’s a non-issue . . . The effectiveness of the PNP will not be reduced [for having only an OIC]. Let’s not engage in speculations because the president’s declaration is clear,” Coloma said in an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
He was referring to Aquino’s disclosure that as early as this year, a search body has been checking the background of qualified officers for the top PNP post. The president said the procedure is normal since Purisima and Espina are retiring next year.
He noted though that there is still no shortlist at present.
Purisima was suspended for six months by the Office of the Ombudsman for his alleged involvement in an anomalous contract with a private firm that delivered firearm licenses.
His supposed “heir” to the PN throne, Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas, retired two weeks ago, thus Espina, the number three man in the PNP, was appointed OIC of the 140,000-strong organization.
“The president has assured that the flow of PNP service will not be affected [by the controversy]. That’s why we should not worry so much about it,” Coloma said.
But Senate President Franklin Drilon has stressed the need to appoint a permanent PNP chief should be appointed because an OIC has limited powers.
The Ombudsman last week ordered that Purisima and other police officials be placed on six months’ preventive suspension pending investigation of the complaint filed against him and other PNP officials.