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Arroyo tells Verzosa: Help end Mindanao conflict

Posted by Abi Kwok on September 27, 2008

By Abigail Kwok, Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:02:00 09/27/2008


MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Director General Jesus Verzosa was sworn in Saturday as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) with marching orders from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: help end the decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao.

Director General Avelino Razon, who reached the mandatory military and police retirement age of 56 Saturday, handed over command of the 135,000-strong PNP to Verzosa in a ceremony presided over by President Arroyo at Camp Crame national headquarters.

Arroyo asked the 53-year-old Verzosa to harness his “rich experience,” having been assigned to “practically every hotspot” in the country, to “bring lasting peace to Mindanao.”

“His [Verzosa’s] experience is valuable to what we are seeking to do today, that is, we are committed to everything possible to bring lasting peace to Mindanao and end 40 years of fighting that has killed more than 120,000 people,” Arroyo said.

“We will pursue the peace process in Mindanao. We must end the armed rebellion through disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation and the very strong role of the PNP is expected in making sure that Mindanao remains peaceful,” she said.

Verzosa, in his acceptance speech, vowed to hone the leadership of the police force from “the national headquarter-centric level to the field level.”

“My appointment is coming at a time where the police force is starting a new direction towards fortifying its role as the guardian of the people,” he said. “People are clamoring for improvement in the PNP.”

“The big challenge is to gain public trust and credibility. This is the challenge the PNP took head on as a reform agenda. Consistent with [President Arroyo’s] program of good governance, the challenge of sustaining initial gains now rests on us,” said Verzosa.

He said his first task as PNP chief is to facilitate leadership and organizational training for all commanders and heads of offices of the PNP “to hone their self-confidence, vision, wisdom, motivational impact, and delivery skills — characters that effective leaders have, and which are indispensable.”

“Leaders at all levels shall be empowered. Every police personnel, from the chief down, must focus on leadership not only as a role that comes with the position, but as a function. All personnel must be proficient in exercising commanding and inspiring leadership within their spheres of influence,” Verzosa said.

Verzosa, who was with his wife Zeny and daughter Joyce, said he would also focus on providing benefits and “high-impact projects” for all PNP personnel, including health care services, educational assistance, pension and retirement system, and legal aid.

He urged Congress to amend existing laws “which bar the promotion of police officers who have pending service-related cases with the Office of the Ombudsman.”

Verzosa vowed to continue the programs and policies Razon had started, including the Mamang Pulis and Aling Pulis, aimed at improving the service and image of the police force.

“I will carry on from where my predecessor left of and work on instilling in the hearts of our men and women in uniform the honor and pride that comes with wearing our police badges. As the most widely recognized symbol of police authority and public trust, the PNP Badge of Honor is a source of pride for the dedicated Filipino police officers,” he said.

In his farewell message, Razon expressed support for Verzosa.

“I leave, happy in the thought, that I will be leaving my post in the hands of someone as passionate as me,” Razon said.

He also expressed gratitude to the entire police force for “practicing duty above self to protect democratic institutions. Mamang pulis is indeed back.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Mamang pulis has done his best. Your trust and confidence has helped me to go forward… despite of the challenges along the way,” Razon said.

He described his less than one year term as PNP chief as filled with “acid tests.”

“There seemed no end to the acid tests; but more than that, there is certainly no end to the courage, the integrity and the grace of every Mamang Pulis and Aling Pulis to respond to challenges under pressure. They are the men and women who risk life and limb so that the rest of us may live in peace and security,” Razon said.

Arroyo praised the outgoing PNP chief for working to reduce street crimes by bringing more policemen or “Mamang Pulis” and “Aleng Pulis” on the beats.

She also congratulated Razon for a “giant” 85 percent reduction in extra-judicial killings during his one-year tour of duty, as she ordered when he assumed as top cop in October 2007.

“[Curbing] street crimes dropped during the time of Sonny Razon. That is something the ordinary Filipino feels, if his street is more crime-free than ever before,” Arroyo said.

As Razon himself pointed out during his valedictory address, Arroyo said that the “three big bangs” of explosions in the Glorietta mall in Makati City and the Batasan Complex in Quezon City, and the Manila Peninsula siege, tested Razon’s mettle in the first three months of his term.

“With those trials, the public very quickly got to know this loyal, perceptive and determined police officer, the unflappable man in uniform who won the public’s trust in him and in the PNP,” she said.

Arroyo did not announce in her speech if Razon, the sixth PNP chief under her administration, would be given a government post. All of Razon’s five immediate predecessors are in government.

Government officials and celebrities who witnessed the changing of the guard at Camp Crame included actor Eddie Garcia, former military chief and presidential adviser on the peace process Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Military Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano, and crime watch leader Teresita Ang See.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy Magilas Class of 1976, Verzosa was chosen as the 15th PNP chief.

He has a law degree and a master’s degree in business administration.

Born in Dasol, Pangasinan, on December 25, 1954, Verzosa is married to Cynthia Verzosa, and they are blessed with two children, Joyce, a law graduate, and Eric, a medical student.

Verzosa, who chairs the PNP Housing Board, is a recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Lingkod ng Bayan Award from the Civil Service Commission, two Cavalier Awards from the PMA Alumni Association, and several service medals for efficiency, merit and outstanding achievement.

Upon graduation from the Philippine Military Academy in 1976, Verzosa saw action in the field as platoon leader and later as company commander under the 54th PC Battalion in Tuburan, Basilan, and in Parang, Maguindanao, at the height of the Mindanao campaign.

Upon his return to Luzon, he was assigned to various positions in the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) Metrocom until he returned to field in 1986 as Chief of the Intelligence and Investigation Branch of the Rizal PC/INP Command.

Before his designation as deputy chief for administration in October last year, Verzosa occupied other leadership positions in the command group and directorial staff, as well as in the various regional police offices and key national support units.

He was deputy chief, PNP for Operations (September 2007); chief, PNP directorial staff (January 2007-August 2007); director, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (2006); regional director of the Calabarzon command (2005); and regional director of the Cordillera (2004), among other posts.

Verzosa is also the executive director of the PNP Program Management Office, the prime mover and overseer of the internal reforms being undertaken by the national police under its Integrated Transformation Program. With Michael Lim Ubac, Philippine Daily Inquirer


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