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Why not an IP general as the next PNP chief?

December 10, 2019 - Tuesday 4:12 AM by Jimmy Laking

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Perhaps out of frustration that none in the list of those touted as the next PNP chief is to his liking, President Duterte indicated he might do the job himself.

Duterte raised the possibility after he supposedly could not find an honest man to lead the 191,000-strong police force.

He added that when it would come to that, he would not handpick to the job an official tainted with a single case of corruption.

And so for more than a month now, the PNP is in limbo, its rank and file clueless on who will fill in the shoes left by the disgraced Police General Oscar Albayalde who was linked to the “ninja cops” scandal.

Yet Duterte need not scrape the bottom to find Albayalde’s replacement. Nor is there a need to take over the job himself.

Having chosen an Indigenous People’s career officer to head the Bureau of Prisons in the person of Director-General Gerald Bantag, Duterte can chose another IP police officer in the person of Major General Amando Clifton B. Empiso who, like Bantag, comes from the indigenous peoples of Benguet Province (where Baguio City is located).

The police officer is a graduate of PMA Class 1987 and like Bantag, prefers his actions to do the talking. He is currently the director of the Special Action Force and has been in the limelight briefly for personally leading a SAF contingent that reinforced the security of the country’s premier penitentiary.

If I remember correctly, he was in that class of PMA cadets that visited Davao City in 1987 and one of those who visited the office of the Philippine Information Agency.

Both Bantag and Empiso come basically from the same IP group that fiercely resisted the Japanese during WWII as combatants and volunteers of the 66th US Infantry that eventually liberated Baguio City and Benguet from the Japanese. It is also on record that some of their women served actively as nurses of the resistance.

Without Duterte knowing it, the police and Army officers from the IPs of the Cordillera region have been among the steadiest and most reliable implementers of his campaign against terrorism. It is rare to find an IP Army or PNP officer going astray.

The Cordillera IPs -- Ibaloi, Kankanaey, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga -- are the equivalent of Gurkhas (in the British Army) in the PNP or in the AFP.

The SAF 44 that perished in Mamasapano included battle-tested IP officers and men from the Cordillera.

In Marawi, the SAF battalions that fought alongside the various components of the armed forces against the Maute terrorists were headed by IP officers from the Cordillera.

Their Army counterparts also fought in the special operations and were in the thick of battle.

The Army captain who led in the successful rescue of British national Allan Hyrons and wife Wilma in Sulu last week is a Cordillera IP.

Much earlier in 2000, a young 2nd lieutenant named Herbert Dilag led one of two Scout Ranger groups that attacked more than 200 Abu Sayyaf Group members holding 28 hostages in Camp Abdurajak.

Dilag personally killed 27 terrorists in the attack that helped pave the way for the rescue of the hostages. He is a recipient of the medal of valor award. Now the commander of the elite Army scout ranger battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Dilag is an IP member from Kalinga.

Perhaps what makes Cordillerans stand out is their proven bravery, loyalty to the flag, and their discipline. They are not also known to shirk hard labor.

No less than the National Police Commission has tagged police officers from the Cordillera as the most disciplined in the country.

This is backed by the Community Evaluation Survey where Cordilleran cops racked up near perfect scores in all indices: satisfaction, trust, respect, and safety.

The Napolcom said Cordilleran cops appeared to have benefitted from a strong community tradition that ingrained fear for a Supreme being and respect for humanity.

Empiso has at least a year and two months before retirement to prove his mettle, given the chance.