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          (File photo)

          MANILA -- The submission of a shortlist of ranking police officials for the country's next top cop to the President is part of a long-observed process, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Monday.

          Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the list submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte last October 17 consists of the current PNP officer-in-charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan and Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the Directorial Staff.

          “As part of the process, I have to submit a short list to the President to assist him and spare him from tedious process of screening and evaluating senior qualified PNP generals,” Año told Philippine News Agency in a text message when sought for a comment.

          Under the law, the National Police Commission (Napolcom), which is chaired by the DILG Secretary, is mandated to submit a recommendation to the President.

          Aside from the Napolcom, the outgoing chief of the PNP usually submits his own shortlist of his possible successor.

          Año, however, was quick to clarify that the President is not required to choose from the shortlist being submitted to him by both the Napolcom and the outgoing PNP chief.

          “President Duterte can choose anybody from one-star (Brigadier General) to three-star (Lieutenant General),” Año stressed.

          Gamboa and Cascolan are members of the PMA Class 1986 along with former PNP chiefs and now Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa and Gen. Oscar Albayalde.

          Eleazar, on the other hand, belongs to PMA Class 1987.

          Duterte earlier admitted that he is having difficulty in selecting an “appropriate guy” who will take over the helm of the country's police force.

          “It’s kind of a -- hindi naman (not really) messy, but it’s very hard to -- at this time to choose a candidate na who would really… The appropriate guy. Mahirap eh (It’s difficult),” Duterte said in a media interview in Malacañang.

          Duterte said he wanted the next PNP chief to possess honesty but noted that the fact of the matter is that it was a rare trait.

          Duterte's choice will replace resigned PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on November 8.

          Less than a month ahead of his retirement, Albayalde relinquished his post and went on non-duty status after he was embroiled in the issue of 'ninja cops' accused of recycling illegal drugs seized in a controversial operation in Pampanga in 2013.

          Duterte earlier said he would leave it to the Office of the Ombudsman to decide on the case of the embattled PNP chief.

          “Let the Ombudsman. Ang administrative is wala na kasi mag-retire na siya if there's a criminal liability, kung meron (There’s no need for administrative liability because he’s retiring, just criminal liability if there is),” Duterte said.

          “He's retiring. The heaviest penalty there is you are separated from service,” he added.

          The PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) amended its original complaint to include Albayalde who was Pampanga provincial police director when the drug raid involving ‘ninja cops’ took place. (PNA)

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