Verzosa shows soft side during retirement honors
By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=612417&publicationSubCategoryId=63
MANILA, Philippines - Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa, who maintained tough and macho image during his 38 years in military and police service, showed his vulnerable side on his last day as a police officer.
Verzosa’s voice cracked as he acknowledged the presence of the mother of Aileen Sarmienta in the gallery during his retirement honor at the PNP quadrangle.
Sarmienta was raped and killed along with her friend Allan Gomez in Calauan, Batangas last June 28, 1993.
It was Verzosa who led the investigation into the gruesome killings that led to the arrest of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez and several henchmen.
As he held back his tears, Verzosa also thanked Cherry Mae Bantiway, who has been wheelchair-bound since she was a kid due to cerebral palsy.
Verzosa said Bantiway, despite her physical handicap, took the courage to stand witness to the most gruesome crime in Baguio City’s history.
Verzosa also assured his wife Cynthia and children Joyce and Eric that he would devote quality time now that he is an ordinary citizen. “Some 14 years ago, I found myself one day attending the last day of retreat of my daughter, Joyce. What struck me most then were her words, “I wish you had more time for us, Papa,” – words that rang in my ears even long after the occasion,” he said.
Verzosa admitted that he was torn between his duties to his family and to the country.
“I could not say anything in response. I could only force a smile, I could only wish I did have more time then for her and the rest of the family. But such was the life of a man in uniform. Today, as I finally hang my police uniform and bid the service goodbye, I am back home from the battlefield, and my time is now all yours,” he said.
Even in the midst of the controversy and turbulence surrounding the tragic Manila bus hostage taking incident, Verzosa said he would retire “with gratitude in my heart for the opportunities to have held the best and at times controversial assignments in the service, and the strength and courage to overcome the trials and obstacles that came with each post.”
He said his 38 years in police service
might not have been enough.
“But the fulfillment from the triumphs of those years, and the lessons I gained from the setbacks I suffered are unparalleled, and now form a significant part of my treasured memories that will see me through the next chapters of my life,” Verzosa said.
Just weeks into his term, Verzosa recalled the so-called Euro-Generals incident exploded as the first acid test of his administration.
“The incident pained us, but the lessons made us stronger. The Maguindanao massacre in 2009 shocked the entire nation but it taught us in the PNP to rise above our weaknesses by accepting them and doing interventions to correct them,” he said.
“I may not have been the perfect police officer, but I knew where I stood, and that is, always on the side of duty and genuine service, where the institution I served was first above all else,” he said.
Verzosa chose to retire 101 days before his mandatory retirement on Dec. 25, his 56th birthday.
Verzosa was succeeded by Deputy Director General Raul Bacalzo in acting capacity.
During the event, two PNP helicopters hovered above showering the crowd with confetti and rose petals while police troops gave their last salute to Verzosa.
The event ended with the release of hundreds of balloons tied to two streamers with “Thank you Sir. Godspeed” and “Till we meet again.”
Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno said Bacalzo would enjoy full discretion at the helm of the PNP.
“PNP chief Bacalzo will enjoy full-discretion, he was chosen by the President,” Puno said.
Bacalzo, the first member of PMA Class ’77 to get his first star, is a seasoned crime investigator and top-notch lawyer who placed 12th in the 1984 Bar Examinations.
It was gathered that several senior police officers have assumed office yesterday as a result of the retirement of Verzosa and at least four officials occupying sensitive positions.
DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo initially blocked the revamp in the PNP. Being the Interior Secretary, Robredo is also the chairman of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) in concurrent capacity.
Before he retired, Verzosa said he referred the movement in the PNP to the DILG and Napolcom.
Aside from Verzosa, those who retired included Chief Superintendent Abner Cabalquinto, head of the PNP’s Directorate for Personnel and Records Management, and Chief Superintendent Luizo Ticman, chief of the PNP’s Directorate for Logistics. Both were classmates of Verzosa in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1976.
Cabalquinto was replaced by Chief Superintendent Jaime Milla while Ticman’s place will be taken over by Chief Superintendent George Piano