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Three names are on the shortlist of candidates for the next chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Friday.

“May pinasa na ko kay PRRD (President Rodrigo R. Duterte), three (I have submitted a list to PRRD, three names). The President’s health cannot be compromised so while I am at the hospital and besides, we have the technology right now, so I submitted it (via e-mail) around Friday last week,” Año told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview.

He did not mention the names of the officials on the shortlist.

Año is currently recovering after testing positive anew for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) last week.

He, however, said all PNP officers with star-rank could be considered for the post to be vacated by Gen. Archie Gamboa, who will retire from service upon turning 56 on September 2.

Asked about the possibility of extending Gamboa’s term, Año said this is a prerogative of the President.

“It is within his (Duterte’s) power because we are in a pandemic. It is allowed by law. The term of the Chief PNP can be extended based on the situation. But I think, he has somebody in mind for the post even before,” he said.

Among the possible contenders for PNP chief are Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, deputy chief for administration and head of the Administrative Support to Covid-19 Operations Task Force (ASCOTF); Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, deputy chief for operations and commander of the Joint Task Force Covid Shield; and Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, chief of the PNP directorial staff.

Cascolan, Gamboa’s batchmate in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1986, will mandatorily retire upon turning 56 in November.

Binag and Eleazar, both from PMA Class of 1987, will retire in April and November 2021, respectively.

Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said they have been preparing the retirement honors for Gamboa.

“(The) PNP is now preparing to render retirement honors to Gen. Archie Gamboa and for a possible change of command ceremony. It will be held at (the) PNP Multi-Purpose Center on September 2, subject to availability of President Rodrigo Duterte as the guest of honor and speaker,” Banac said.

He said all invited officials would join the ceremony via video teleconferencing due to quarantine restrictions.

“All health standards and safety will be strictly observed,” Banac said.

Gamboa took over the helm of the PNP as officer in charge in October 2019, replacing Gen. Oscar Albayalde who stepped down from his post after the controversy on an anti-drug operation during his stint as Pampanga Police chief in 2013.

He was eventually appointed by the President as the country’s top cop in January.

Gamboa earned his Bachelor of Laws degree at the Jose Rizal University and passed the Bar exams in 2004.

He also served as chief of the PNP Directorial Staff in 2017, the PNP’s fourth top position, and rose to the second-highest position as deputy chief for administration in 2019. (PNA)

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