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MANILA, Philippines -- Although it has withdrawn its offer of Interior undersecretary to Director General Nicanor Bartolome, Malacanang still wants the chief of the Philippine National Police to retire early, ostensibly to ensure clean and orderly elections next year.
Bartolome’s mandatory retirement is in March 2013, when he turns 56.
Returning from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok, President Benigno Aquino III spoke to Bartolome to convince him to step down early and replace now resigned Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, who had been embroiled in controversy.
On Wednesday, Aquino, without mentioning Bartolome’s name, said Puno’s replacement “might not be ready (to take on the DILG post) at the time that we will need him.”
But Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda now says the “primary consideration” for wanting Bartolome to retire early is not to replace Puno but to allow the next PNP chief enough time to prepare for the May 2013 elections.
“The idea here is you’ve got an election, a mid-term election coming up in May. (Bartolome) retires in March. So there’s a difficulty for the new PNP director general to come and take over especially when it is already in the midst of campaigning,” Lacierda said.
“He (next PNP chief) needs to ensure that in all regions, especially those areas which we have already identified as hotspots, there will be peace and order. So we need to have the new PNP director gain much earlier experience in seeing the whole picture especially come election time,” he added.