Former President Fidel V. Ramos once quoted Leo Oracion, the first Filipino to conquer Mt. Everest, saying: “Going up to the top is optional but coming back down is mandatory because you cannot stay at the top forever.”
Unless extended by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Gen. Benjamin “Jun” Acorda Jr. is set to step down as Chief of the 224,000 strong Philippine National Police (PNP) on December 3, 2023.
I had the rare privilege to interview him at his office in Camp Crame last November 3 where we discussed far ranging topics from our book project on the late former PNP Chief Gen. Leandro R. Mendoza whom he served as aide de camp for five years to national security issues as well as his journey to the totem pole of the national police.
My friendship with Gen. Jun Acorda goes way back in 1993 when we worked together under the tutelage of then Pangasinan provincial director Col. Amado T. Espino Jr. Then a lieutenant, Jun and I teamed up for some special projects like the Lingayen Gulf War, a crusade to save the endangered gulf, Pista’y Dayat, 1995 Palarong Pambansa, and flagship projects like the Sual Coal Power Plant and the San Roque Multi Purpose Dam. Thirty years after, Gen. Jun and I will be teaming up again along with Gen. Reynaldo V. Velasco.
When he took over the helm on April 4, Gen. Acorda anchored his leadership on 5-focused agenda for a better and more effective police force namely: 1) Personnel Morale and Welfare; 2) Community Engagement; 3) Integrity Enhancement; 4) ICT Development; and, 5) Honest Law Enforcement Operations.
Among his crowning achievements as PNP Chief is the drop by 8.24 of index crime volume based on the Crime Information Reporting and Analysis System (CIRAS). From January 1 to October 31, 2023, there were only 34,908 recorded cases and it dropped to 2,877 cases or 8.24 percent compared to the same period last year. Likewise, the PNP also concentrated on “8 focus crimes” like murder, homicide, physical injury, robbery, theft, rape, car and motor theft. As a result, focus crimes dropped by 8.18 percent, from 34,702 cases in 2022 to only 31,864 in 2023.
“These promising outcomes stand as a clear testament to the tireless and coordinated efforts of the PNP contrary to popular narratives,” said adding that “The statistics undeniably demonstrate a noteworthy decline in the overall crime rate during the 10 months of 2023. This success reflects the PNP’s commitment to ‘Serbisyong Nagkakaisa’ and our unwavering vow to decisively suppress criminal activities, ensuring the safety and security of our communities.”
Over and above his outstanding performance in his barely seven months in office, the PNP emerged as one of the top five most trusted among 25 government agencies based on the Tugon ng Masa survey commissioned by Octa Research. Their ratings were in the following order: CHEd, 80 percent; DepEd, 79 percent; PNP, 76 percent; DOH, 75 percent; and DSWD, 73 percent.
While expressing his contentment having achieved what every police officer has aspired for in the police organization, Gen. Acorda laments that as Chief PNP, he should have been given more leeway in pushing for the well-deserved promotions of his fellow officers. In fact, he has written both houses of Congress that the gridlock affecting the promotions involving the National Police Commission (Napolcom) be resolved by legislative and executive means so as to give due recognition to all police officers who are ripe for a well-deserved promotion based on merit, seniority and performance.
However, what stood out in our almost two-hour meeting was Gen. Jun Acorda’s undying sense of patriotism whose love for country shines brightly as the sun, moon and stars. He gifted me with a patriotic medallion emblazoned with Makabansa, Maka Diyos at Maka Tao. Along with the medallion is a call for patriotism printed on a small sheet of paper entitled Makabansa…Pilipino with the following words:
Ako ay Patunay
Ng Isang Pilipino na Makabansa
Nagmamahal sa Watawat
At Handang Mag-Alay ng Buhay
Sa Ngalan ng Katarungan
Kasanrinlan at Kalayaan
Ng Aking Pamilya at Bayan
Sa Gabay ng Diyos
At Tao-Pusong Panalangin
Ang Ating Karapatan
At Dangal ang Adhikain
Maglingkod sa Kapwa
Tunay na Mithiin
With this rare kind of police officer and patriot, how I wish he could serve much longer and extended as PNP Chief especially with the national security concerns and geo politics now in play.
At the testimonial parade at the Philippine Military Academy tendered in his honor and awarded with the “Outstanding PMA Alumnus,” Gen. Acorda has this to say:
“I can say that the PMA is a bastion of idealism. Everytime an alumnus returns to PMA, he experiences goose bumps. One is reminded to always follow the right path because the cadet corps is always a magnet for idealism. The magic is never lost in embracing love for country, serving the nation with professionalism and idealism will always be there. And it’s nice to be back home to thank also my alma mater that prepared me for the challenges that I have faced all these years in going up the ladder.”