I’m referring to my friend, erstwhile Eastern Police District (EPD) director, Chief Superintendent Bernabe ‘Joel’ Balba of PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 who was relieved last week following the arrest of one of his anti-narcotics agents and the sacking of 15-man strong EPD District Drug Enforcement Team. For the record, Balba is one of the most hardworking police officials in Metro Manila until his District DEU operatives went astray and caused his relief under the principle of command responsibility.
Balba, I learned is the youngest member of PMA Class 1988 in the PNP as he would be retiring on June 11, 2022 or 39 months from now. The others are Chief Supt. Herminio ‘Jun’ Tadeo, currently the Deputy Regional Director for Administration of the Police Regional Office 1 (May 24, 2022); Chief Supt. Dionards Carlos, the Regional Director of the Police Regional Office 8 in Eastern Visayas (May 8, 2022); Chief Supt. Ferdie Divina, the Deputy Director of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence (May 2, 2022); Chief Supt. Marni Marcos Jr., the director of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (April 22, 2022); and Chief Supt. RJ Hinanay of the PNP Crime Laboratory (February 3, 2022).
I would say it could be Divine Providence since the Lord Almighty apparently has more plans for Balba when he was relieved for ‘command responsibility’ after members of the EPD District Drug Enforcement Unit faltered and got involved in an infamous ‘bangketa/hulidap’ operation which was uncovered by men of the NCRPO Regional Drug Enforcement Unit last week.
I was told by my friends in the force that there is a ‘one-strike policy’ being implemented right now when it comes to erring PNP anti-narcotics units. Thus, a PNP Regional Director can be relieved if members of his Regional DEU would be arrested by a Camp Crame-based unit like the PNP Counter-Intelligence Task Force for a drug irregularity specifically robbery-extortion or kidnapping-for-ransom.
On the other hand, a District Director, a Provincial Director or a City Director would be relieved if operatives from their District, Provincial or City DEUs would be arrested by agents from the Regional Police Office’s Special Operations Group or RDEUs. This is what exactly had happened on Balba as members of the NCRPO-RDEU under Director Gilor Eleazar were the ones who arrested Police Officer 2 Mario Quibete of the EPD-DEU for his ‘bangketa/hulidap’ case which triggered the relief and investigation of the entire EPD-DEU personnel.
At the same time, a Police Station Commander or Chief of Police will be relieved if his Station or City DEU will be involved in the same irregularity. This is what happened to Pasay City police chief, Senior Supt. Noel Flores who was sacked after the PNP-CITF headed by Senior Supt. Bong Caramat arrested a member of the Pasay City SDEU for the same offense.
Shortly after he was relieved, Balba told me that as a good soldier, he would follow and support the decision of PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde and Eleazar. He emphasized that he believes in the wisdom of his superiors and at the same time maintained that truly, ‘leading is really a challenge’ since he really was not remiss in constantly reminding and supervising his men and their state of discipline.
As I have been saying, some police scalawags are the ones who are sabotaging the PNP campaign and adding up to wrong public perception that police can’t be trusted upon although the truth is that majority of the force remain to be honest. I also do believe in the old saying that you really can’t put a good man down and I believe that Balba is one of them.
I’m saying this knowing so many good officers who once in their career were also relieved from their posts for ‘command responsibility’ but managed to climb their way up to the top, simply because they worked hard to prove to all and sundry that they deserve the best. One present classic example is my friend Gen. Albayalde.
By the way, I would also like to congratulate Balba’s replacement, Chief Supt. Chris Tambungan, a tough disciplinarian from PNP Academy Class 1987. Gen. Albayalde apparently has full trust and confidence on Tambungan that he decided to install him as the new EPD district director. Watch out for the brand of discipline and leadership that Tambungan will bring to EPD.
On a personal note, I would like to congratulate four newly-promoted police 1-star generals who were sworn into office by Gen. Albayalde on Thursday last week. They are my friends, new Chief Superintendents Adolfo ‘Boyet’ Samala, Omega Jireh Fidel, Pascual ‘Pax’ Muñoz Jr. and Marlon Madrid. Samala is a classmate from PMA Class 1988 of Balba while Fidel, belongs to PMA Class 1989. Muñoz and Madrid all belong to PMA Class 1990.
Samala is currently the Executive Officer of the PNP Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development while Muñoz is the Executive Officer of the PNP Directorate for Logistics.
Madrid is the Deputy Regional Director for Administration of the Police Regional Office 4-A in Calabarzon region while Fidel is the Executive Officer of the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management. Congratulations to these fine officers and gentlemen for fulfilling what a Peemayer dreamt of when he was still a Fort del Pilar cadet: be a General in the future.