PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is scouting for an "honest and competent" high-ranking police officer who will succeed beleaguered Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde, Malacañang said on Tuesday, October 8.

"He (Duterte) will decide based on competence and honesty," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters, when asked about Duterte's basis for the selection of the next PNP chief.

Albayalde, who has been linked to the recycling of seized illegal drugs, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on November 8.

According to reports, Duterte has four PNP officials in mind to be Albayalde's successor.

The four contenders for the top PNP post are PNP Deputy Chief for operations Archie Gamboa, PNP Chief Directorial Staff Camilo Cascolan, Metro Manila Police Director Guillermo Eleazar, and Manila Police District Chief Vicente Danao Jr.

In a media interview on Sunday, October 6, Duterte said he had yet to pick the next PNP chief, as he stressed that choosing Albayalde's successor needs to be carefully weighed.

"I have to consult everybody. Maya-maya, madapa na naman tapos ako na naman magkaroon ng problema (If the next PNP chief stumbles again, I have to carry the burden)," the President said when he returned to the country after his five-day official visit to Russia.

In the same interview, the President stressed the need to accord Albayalde due process and respect his right to be heard.

He asked for "clear proof" that the police chief has links to illegal drugs.

Panelo, however, could not confirm whether Duterte's latest statement was an admission that the latter made a mistake in choosing Albayalde as the PNP chief in April 2018.

"Hindi ko alam kung anong ibig niyang sabihin (I don't know what he meant)," he said. "Wala naman siyang sinabi na nagkamali siya. Nagi-ispeculate lang tayo (He did not say he made a mistake. We're just speculating)." (SunStar Philippines)