Jockeying for the top PNP post begins

TWO names have cropped up as top contenders to replace embattled Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Raul Bacalzo.

Sustained press releases in the last two weeks have given away the names of Deputy Director General Benjamin Belarmino, the deputy chief for operations, and Director Rey Lanada, chief of the PNP Directorate for Comptrollership.

Several sources at Camp Crame said the two have hired seasoned public relations officers to help them in their media blitz.

“Obvious ba na may ginagamit silang tao para bumango ang mga pangalan nila. Eto nga naman ang tamang panahon lalo na at mainit sa mata ng publiko si Bacalzo,” an insider at Bacalzo’s office said.

Belarmino is a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class ‘77, while Lanada belongs to Class ‘79 whose members occupy some of the most-coveted posts at PNP and at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

A day before Bacalzo left for the United States, Lanada said he would push for fiscal reforms and modernization in the PNP.

The pronouncement surprised some Camp Crame officials.

“Bigla na lang siyang lumutang,” a Camp Crame source said on condition of anonymity. “Wala namang masamang mag-ambisyon. Sino ba ang ayaw maging PNP chief?”

Last week, Belarmino called for a multi-sectoral approach in handling crisis situations, one where the local government and other interested parties have more definite roles in such crises.

“We should develop a holistic crisis manual which will cover everything from negotiation to tactical response operations and will assign tasks to local government executives to Cabinet members, depending on the scale of an incident,” Belarmino said in a statement.

Camp Crame officials said Lanada and Belarmino are both qualified to replace Bacalzo.

“Bahala na magdesisyon ang Presidente,” Lanada earlier said.

Lanada was a former director of the Eastern Visayas police office where he led a campaign to recover an estimated two tons of cocaine dumped by a Chinese drug syndicate in Samar waters last December. He used to be the director of the PNP Finance Service.

Last week, two lawmakers assailed Bacalzo for the string of heinous cases involving police officers, the bungling of an arrest that could have solved execution style murders in Southern Philippines and the continuing proliferation of illegal gambling in the country. Anthony Vargas

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