MANILA - Will the country's top cop retire early?
There are speculations circulating within the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the looming retirement of its Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa to give way to the law enforcement agency's second-in-command, General Ramon Apolinario.
Dela Rosa is scheduled to retire in January 2018 and if he will finish his term, Apolinario will no longer have a chance at the top spot.
Apolinario, currently the PNP deputy chief for administration and a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Sandiwa Class 1985, is scheduled to retire on Aug. 31, 2018.
By virtue of seniority, Apolinario was next in line to the top spot after then PNP Chief Gen. Ricardo Marquez retired. However, President Rodrigo Duterte instead chose Dela Rosa to lead the country's police force, bypassing PMA Class '83, '84 and '85.
In order to qualify and be appointed as the next PNP chief, Apolinario needs one more full year in office and this can only happen if Dela Rosa retires this month.
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN during one of his rare morning workout sessions in the PNP gym, Dela Rosa said he will follow whatever President Duterte decides.
"Basta maghintay na lang tayo kung ano ang sasabihin ng Malacañang, yun lang naman ang aking serbisyo, hanggang saan, hanggang kailan...Part and parcel of the job yan, hintayin na lang natin, kung ano. Trabaho lang naman tayo. We are not allowed to insist," he said.
Dela Rosa, however, said he believes Apolinario can handle the demands of being chief of the country's police force.
"Kaya [niya]. Bakit hindi kaya? Kung kinaya ko bakit hindi niya kayanin? Pareho lang naman kami ng abilidad. Pareho naman kami ng training na pinagdaanan lahat lahat, kaya yan," Dela Rosa said.
When asked about the possibility of Duterte extending his term as chief of the police force, Dela Rosa said he serves at the pleasure of the President.
"I cannot impose my own desires, own decisions. Everyone serves, everyone is working at the pleasure of the President. Hintay lang tayo kung anong sabihin ng presidente. Trabaho lang muna tayo," he said.
When asked about the possibility of being appointed as chief of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Dela Rosa said it is not a valid option.
"Eh nasa batas yan eh. One year after retirement, merong ban. No police officer or military officer or retired from the service can be appointed as secretary of DILG within one year from retirement," he said.
Dela Rosa is also not closing his doors to the possibility of being appointed as anti-crime czar.
"Kung ako ang tatanungin, we are subservient to the decisions ng ating nakakataas, ganyan ang pagseserbisyo natin. Hintay lang tayo kung ano talaga, kahit pa beyond retirement kung gusto pa tayong pagtrabahuhin, trabaho pa rin, kaysa naman wala kang ginagawa," Dela Rosa said.