"A known disciplinarian, this incorruptible general never tolerated abuses by his subordinates."
There is no telling when the current public health crisis will end, even as the Department of Health (DOH) has heralded the “flattening of the curve” of coronavirus incidence in the country.
We have time and again commended the health workers for the public service they render on the frontlines of the war against COVID-19.
Let us not forget, however, the role that the Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel has played since Day One of the implementation of the community quarantine to control the spread of coronavirus.
In fact, the PNP members’ own heroic sacrifices have not come without cost as 6,500 policemen have contracted the disease, including at least 20 who have died.
Unfortunately, while they fulfill their duties to protect and to serve amid the global pandemic the 209,000-strong PNP has also undergone one of the worst crises in its history – that of credibility.
The great challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic came in the wake of a deluge of scandals involving PNP’s top officials, including the Ninja Cops case that shamelessly undermined President Duterte’s vaunted anti-illegal drugs war.
A series of police abuses have also blackened the image of the PNP, a continuing pattern of culture of impunity including a case of 11 cops from San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan. They are now facing charges for kidnapping with murder for the abduction, detention over fabricated drug cases of six youths.
In Quezon City, a retired Army soldier, Winston Ragos, was shot to death by an overzealous police sergeant manning a checkpoint after the unarmed Ragos walked past him, hurling invectives. Ragos turned out to be suffering from mental disorder caused by his war exploits against the communist New People’s Army.
Also recently, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the filing of murder charges against nine policemen from Jolo, Sulu, for the massacre of four Philippine Army intelligence agents in pursuit of a notorious bomb expert of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group and two companions.
While the whole nation heeded the directives of the Presidential Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), there are PNP officials who have exempted themselves from the Enhanced Community Quarantine rules.
Last May 8, right inside Camp Bagong Diwa, in Taguig City, police officials held a mańanita to celebrate the birthday of P/Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas in violation of rules on social gathering and social distancing.
In view of the upcoming mandatory retirement of Chief PNP General Camilo Pancratius Cascolan on November 10, President Duterte is duty-bound yet again to designate a new Chief PNP.
Needless to say, we need a PNP Chief that can lead by example, and only one name rings a bell – that of Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, the indefatigable Commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield.
The most qualified and most senior of all PNP generals to take over Cascolan is Eleazar, Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1987, who has sterling track record.
Eleazar is known to inspire and command respect from subordinates when he served as NCRPO chief for more than a year, from June 2018 to October 2019.
He headed the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), during which he proved to be a knight in shining armor.
One of the accomplishments of the AKG under Eleazar was the capture of former actor and Quezon City representative Dennis Roldan, who was eventually convicted for masterminding the kidnapping of a Chinese-Filipino child.
Eleazar turned down offers of hefty amounts of money by relatives of rescued kidnap victims, saying he and his men were just doing their job.
A known disciplinarian, the incorruptible Eleazar never tolerated abuses by his subordinates.
With Eleazar’s able leadership and unblemished credibility, the PNP may yet recover from the worst period of its history.