Napolcom expands PNP OIC Espina's powers

MANILA, Philippines – The National Police Commission (Napolcom) has “granted additional authority” to Police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, the current officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The Napolcom, which has administrative supervision over the PNP, made the announcement in a statement released through the PNP’s Public Information Office on Wednesday, April 8.

The Napolcom said the commission passed Resolution Number 2015-106 which allows Espina to “approve and issue permits to import/transport ammunitions, explosives, firearms of any type/caliber, weapons systems and accessories attached or pertaining to air, naval and land assets.”

“The Commission granted this additional authority to OIC Espina to assure speedy action of the PNP on applications for importation of firearms, explosives, ammunitions and other weapons systems submitted to the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) by, or for and on behalf of, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” said Eduardo Escueta, Napolcom vice chairman and Executive Officer.

Espina took over as PNP OIC in December 2014 after former PNP Police Director General Alan Purisima was preventively suspended over a graft case.

Purisima was suspended for almost two months when he resigned a week after “Oplan Exodus,” a controversial police operation that claimed the lives of 67, including 5 civilians, 18 Muslim rebels, and 44 elite cops.

Interior Secretary and Napolcom chairman Manuel Roxas II had earlier said that Espina would have the “full powers and authority” of a full-time PNP chief.

But months later, it became apparent that Espina’s powers were not that vast. (READ: Crisis before Mamasapano: A tale of 2 PNP chiefs)

Although Espina is given power over the PNP’s finances and operations, his appointments are limited to only OICs. Several current and former PNP officials have told Rappler that this has hindered the PNP’s efficacy.

Espina himself admitted it was affecting the PNP administratively. – Bea Cupin/Rappler.com