The Palace claims there is no official announcement yet on who the next chief of the Philippine National Police would be.
There were indications that the current deputy chief would be the next director general, but until there is an official announcement, nothing is cast in stone yet.
What is certain is that the current director general of the PNP, General Ronald dela Rosa, only has until next month to lead an institution the public has felt so conflicted about.
In the year and a half that Dela Rosa led the police organization, we have harbored strong and contrasting sentiments about it. We know, for instance, that the PNP is mandated to protect the citizenry and make us all feel safe in our homes and on the streets.
Because this administration has prided itself in enforcing the law and cracking down on lawless elements, there are claims crimes have gone down—as a result, the streets are safer.
That is arguable, of course, especially when we take into consideration the numerous reports that some cops have been overzealous in carrying out the war on drugs. As a result, the anti-drug campaign has been the subject of much criticism —such that the President had to tap the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to lead it, instead.
Dela Rosa, for his part, has shown his character to be as evocative as his nickname “Bato.” Remember him comically bobbing his head up and down during Mr. Duterte’s inauguration? Dressing up as Santa Claus to supposedly spread cheer? Berating errant cops in front of cameras and making them do push ups? Crying on national television, lamenting how the PNP is being judged harshly even as it is just doing its job?
We’ve seen enough fanfare, sure, but not much else.
Whoever the next chief of the PNP will be will have a great burden on his shoulders. The PNP has again been tapped to participate in the anti-drug campaign, to lend support to the PDEA. The next chief has to show he is his own person capable of firm enforcement of the law balanced with an equally firm grasp of the notions of due process and human rights.
Mr. Dela Rosa can entertain fantasies of pursuing a career based on popularity. Meanwhile, the men and women of the PNP, a great majority of whom still have the best intentions of the nation at heart, do not need a character. They need a leader.