SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. urged President Benigno Aquino III to form an official and transparent selection body that will vet the qualifications of candidates for the next Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.

Marcos said the President must "go beyond friendship" in choosing the next head of the 150,000-strong national police force.

"This way, friends of the President will not bump off those who are most competent, most loyal to the country, most upright, and most public service-oriented candidates. The selection process should not be secret and must be open to the public," Marcos said in a statement.

The selection body, the senator said, would recommend to the President a short list from which he will choose.

Based on media accounts, the strongest contenders for the top PNP post are Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, PNP deputy chief for operations Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr., and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Director Benjamin Magalong.

Petrasanta is a trusted aided of the Aquino family and is being endorsed by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte while Aquino's close friend Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II is endorsing Garbo Jr.

Former senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, is endorsing Magalong.

Marcos noted Aquino's friendship with PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima made him choose the police general as PNP chief in 2012.

He added Purisima's closeness to the President is seen to be the reason why Purisima has been charged in court for his alleged role in the botched January 25 police operation in Mamasapano that led to the death of 44 members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Earlier, Marcos urged the President to fire Purisima, as well as to file appropriate charges against him in connection with the bungled operation.

"Five months after 44 SAF troopers were murdered in the infamous Mamasapano massacre; General Purisima still enjoys the comfort of his home and the company of his friends while the orphans of the fallen policemen cry for justice. It seems that his closeness with the President is working favorably for him," Marcos said.

Purisima resigned in February as PNP chief amid public outrage and calls for him to resign because of the Mamasapano massacre. He allegedly led the Oplan Exodus despite his suspension as PNP chief by the Ombudsman. (Sunnex)