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FIRING LINE: What’s with Marcos and the PNP generals?

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

President Bongbong Marcos has pulled off another “Johnny come lately” in designating a new head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) – and a temporary chief at that. Well, that’s what we initially thought.

The announcement of Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta, PNP deputy chief for Administration and the No. 2 top brass in the organization, as officer-in-charge (OIC) was made less than 24 hours before the scheduled change of command ceremony at Camp Crame last Monday.

But it was like an April Fool’s joke because little did Peralta and the entire PNP know that his stint atop the police organization was practically symbolic of a can placed on a pedestal for target shooting.

For when the time came to make his address at the grandstand, Marcos named PNP comptroller, Lt. Gen. Rommel Francisco D. Marbil Jr., as the next chief.

I have a feeling we were not the only ones surprised, apart from Peralta. I think the President surprised even himself, unless his decision were something you’d call “last minute.”

With the departure of Gen. Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. long overdue — since, by the book, he was supposed to retire upon turning 56 last December — not having a ready replacement for him appears to me as a glaring symptom of deeper issues within the administration.

Why the delay in picking a successor? Was it because Acorda’s departure was unforeseen, catching the Palace flatfooted, or was it simply a troubling display of indecision at the highest levels of government?

One cannot help but question whether this delay reflects the President’s hollow-headedness in appointing top police officials or a stark indication of a dearth of talent within the PNP’s ranks.

Amid mounting concerns over the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, characterized by a disturbing trend of drug-related killings in certain provinces, the need for steady leadership in law enforcement cannot be overstated.

Alvarez pokes Marcos

The recent call for Marcos’s resignation by former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez exemplifies how indecision or grayscaling his moves would naturally pale his leadership compared with previous Chief Executives who made firm decisions.

Of course, it’s evident that Alvarez’s intentions are less than noble and reeks of political interest leaning towards the Dutertes. Still, he also dared to expose how easily we can keep second-guessing the President’s ability to lead effectively.

Take, for example, his long grip on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and having to wait for a series of shameful follies before deciding to appoint a “working secretary” focused on many challenges. President Bongbong waited until Filipinos had the worst price surges in a wide range of agricultural products, from rice to sugar to onions and more, before pulling the plug on himself.

Alvarez’s suggestion to hand over leadership to Vice President Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio in the face of escalating tensions with China might be crazier.

But it’s a wake-up call that Marcos should sharpen his decision-making skills. He should have learned from his dad, who always sought out the best and the brightest. Just make sure his appointees don’t turn into corrupt beasts.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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