MANILA, Philippines - The state funeral for the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo last Tuesday appeared to have gone smoothly, solemn and dignified.
But behind the scenes, three officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) including a police general were relieved for committing lapses during the state funeral.
Sources told The STAR that PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome personally ordered the relief of Chief Superintendent Alex Ignacio, executive officer of the PNP-Directorate for Comptroller, who was tasked as the battalion commander for the funeral.
“The PNP chief was disappointed. He expected everything to be perfect. He personally supervised the rehearsals for the military honors and state funeral to make sure everything would be in order,” the source revealed.
Aside from Ignacio, the source said two other police officers in Region 5, whose names were not disclosed, were also relieved due to other lapses committed during preparations for the wake.
Robredo died in a plane crash last Aug. 18 and his body was recovered on Aug. 21.
After the two-day wake in Malacañang, the remains of Robredo were brought back to Naga City last Aug. 26.
At the airport, the PNP rendered full military honors before taking the body to Naga City Hall.
Before leaving the City Hall last Aug. 27 for the Basilica Menore de Nuestra Señora de Peñafracia on Monday, the PNP again rendered full honors to the late DILG chief and the same rites were conducted upon arrival at the basilica.
The source said it was during the last full honors in the basilica that Ignacio committed some lapses. “Gen. Ignacio as battalion commander was supposed to give ‘attention’ order to his troops as the casket draped with a Philippine flag got to the Basilica. The PNP chief himself noticed that Ignacio wasn’t giving orders at all,” the source said.
At that moment, sources said members of Ignacio’s troop were still on “parade rest” or with both arms behind their backs instead of standing at attention.
“It should have been that by the time the casket was brought out of the plane, the battalion commander had already ordered ‘tanghal’ or preparatory to be in attention position and then ‘ta’ or attention,” the source said.
In the absence of a clear command, some members of the troop were saluting while others were in “tanghal ta” position.
Dismayed over the apparently glaring lapses, the source said Bartolome immediately ordered the relief of Ignacio.
Sources said Ignacio could have been exhausted after several activities, thus he committed some lapses, which could be understandable.
Robredo and pilots Jessup Bahinting and Nepali Kshitiz Chand died after the Piper Seneca plane developed engine trouble, crashed and plunged into the waters of Masbate.
Only Robredo’s aide Senior Inspector June Paulo Abrasado survived the accident.
Meanwhile, the race for the next chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), who will be in charge of peace and order in Metro Manila, is developing.
Present NCRPO chief Director Alan Purisima is expected to occupy the fourth highest position in the PNP – the chief directorial staff – with the looming revamp in the national police force.
The revamp was due to the decision of Deputy Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr., the PNP deputy chief for administration, to go for a non-duty status (NDS) on Sept. 5, more than a month before his 56th birthday on Oct. 11, the mandatory retirement age for police and military uniformed personnel.
Cacdac said he already filed his request to go on NDS starting Sept. 5, thus making his position vacant that has to be filled by the PNP leadership.
By succession, Cacdac will be replaced by Deputy Director General Emelito Sarmiento, PNP deputy chief for operations, or the No. 3 man in the PNP.
His position will be given to Deputy Director General Rommel Heredia of TCDS, whose position will be occupied by Purisima.
Several promising police officials are qualified to replace Purisima, including Director Felipe Rojas, chief of the Directorate for Research Development (DRD), and Highway Patrol Group (HPG) director Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina.
Chief Superintendents Marcelo Garbo, Central Visayas (Region 7) police director and Edgar Ladao of Central Luzon (Region 3 police director), are also candidates for the NCRPO top post. – With Non Alquitran