TOMAS STRIPPED OF CONTROL OVER POLICE

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Nestle L. Semilla |August 11,2016 - 12:54 AM
THOSE WERE THE DAYS. This 11-year-old photo, taken on April 11, 2005, showed Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña being closely guarded by members of the Cebu City Police Office’s SWAT team while the mayor was observing how the Regional Mobile Group (RMG ) policemen, on his order, were preventing vehicles from entering the then South Reclamation Project, now South Road Properties. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

THOSE WERE THE DAYS. This 11-year-old photo, taken on April 11, 2005, showed Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña being closely guarded by members of the Cebu City Police Office’s SWAT team while the mayor was observing how the Regional Mobile Group (RMG ) policemen, on his order, were preventing vehicles from entering the then South Reclamation Project, now South Road Properties. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

The authority over the police was taken away from Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña in response to the mayor’s decision to withdraw support from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

The National Police Commission (Napolcom), in an en banc resolution yesterday, decided to remove from Osmeña the authority as deputized representative of Napolcom, which means he no longer has a say over the operation of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) within his own city.

“He (Osmeña) has no longer operational supervision (and) control,” said lawyer Homer Mariano Cabaral, Napolcom Central Visayas director, who served the resolution to Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella at the City Hall yesterday.

According to Cabaral, this was the first time that a local chief executive in Central Visayas was stripped of his authority over the police.

The supervision over CCPO has now been placed under the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) headed by Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, said Cabaral.

Osmeña, currently on leave and in the US for a medical check up, however, appeared unperturbed by the decision, which was signed by Interior Secretary Ismael Sueño, who also heads Napolcom, on Aug. 10.

“You mean they’re revoking something that I never had in the first place? Being denied the chance to choose someone to work with (which is a violation of the Local Government Code) was the very reason for my protest to begin with,” the mayor said in a Facebook post in response to the Napolcom’s decision.

Osmeña, angered that top police officials in the city and Central Visayas were relieved of their posts without consultation, had earlier reacted by withdrawing support for newly installed police officers, including the new chief, Senior Supt. Joel Doria; and withheld the supply of gasoline to police patrol cars, as well as halted the release of city-owned vehicles supposedly meant for the CCPO.

The mayor also abandoned the cash reward system for each dead crime suspect and announced that he would stop giving allowances to new policemen who would be assigned to the city.
“I will abide by the resolution of Napolcom, but I would like to ask the Cebuanos to realize that the resolution is also Napolcom’s admission that all peace and order in Cebu City is now their sole responsibility, as they just put on record that my hands are tied. Best of luck to them. Cebu City has many other problems, like garbage and traffic, so I will focus my efforts on those instead,” added the mayor.

Privilege

Under Section 64 of Republic Act 8551 or the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998, governors and mayors are automatically deputized as representatives of Napolcom in their respective jurisdiction.

But Cabaral stressed that supervision and control over the police was just a “privilege” given to mayors since the authority belonged to Napolcom.

He said that if Osmeña would restore the city’s support to the police, Napolcom 7 could recommend for the restoration of Osmeña’s authority over the police.

Also, he added, President Rodrigo Duterte has the discretion to give back such authority to Osmeña.

Osmeña has been working closely with Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos, the CCPO chief, and Chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador Jr. , the police director for Central Visayas, in a relentless anti-illegal drugs campaign, when both were relieved from their posts in July.

Osmeña said the Philippine National Police (PNP) transferred the two officials despite his request to let them stay for at least 30 days so as not to disrupt the momentum they were gaining in the fight against illegal drugs.

But Cabaral said the actions and the pronouncements of Osmeña were investigated and validated by the regional office of Napolcom, which recommended the withdrawal of the deputation given to the mayor, particularly after noting how the mayor’s actions had hampered the city police’s peace and order campaign.

“There are four grounds in withdrawing the deputation. One of the grounds, which was used in Mayor Osmeña’s case, was ‘engaging in acts of inimical to national security or which negate the effectiveness of the peace and order campaign’,” Cabaral said.

(The other three grounds were frequent unauthorized absences, abuse of authority and providing material support to criminal elements.)

City aid to police

Osmeña, in his Facebook post, lamented that the city government has actually been doing a lot for the police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), such as providing their personnel with incentives and allowances.

He said the CCPO still has 50 vehicles owned by the city. The firearms that he ordered recalled were being repaired and would be to returned to the police in working condition, he added.

Osmeña said that through the efforts of Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa, the city government planned to put up a drug rehabilitation center in Barangay Labangon in order for the police to have somewhere to put their surrenderers.

“The city is operating on a very tight budget now. We are still trying to recover from the (Commission on Audit)-reported P6 (billion) deficit from last year. If Napolcom wants to take over support and pay for all the things I mentioned, they are welcome to. That will allow me to use that money to expanding things like the City Scholars program, so even more children can go to college, including those of policemen,” he said.

He then added: “One more thing: I’ve been mayor for 6 terms. To those that remember, what was the peace and order and drug situation here like before when I was given a free hand in taking care of it? Did you not trust me then?”

He did it first

Taliño, reached for comment, said policemen in the region were willing to coordinate and collaborate with Osmeña but the latter ignored them.

“Si mayor naman ang unang nag-withdraw ng support. Very cooperative ang PNP sa kanya. Even the chief PNP (Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa) appealed during his visit (to PRO-7 last July 18) not to abandon the police but the more he withdrew his support, even ordering the recall of city-issued firearms,” he said in a text message to CDN.

“He (Osmeña) himself said that the police are on their own. Maybe Napolcom saw that the mayor no longer has interest in helping us, so his being a deputized representative of Napolcom was removed,” he added.

Taliño said that Osmeña’s decision to no longer assist the CCPO affected its operations, but it was not enough to cripple the city police since it still got the support of the national government.

Aside from withdrawing support for the police, Osmeña also withheld the P8,000 monthly allowance granted to the new CCPO chief, Supt. Joel Doria. He also ordered the recall of more than 50 guns and had stopped the release of 15 patrol cars and 3 vans already earmarked for the CCPO.

“We have been doing our job without the mayor’s support for a month already,” Taliño said.
He said there will be no let up in their campaign against illegal drugs.

“I’m supervising CCPO and they have intensified their campaign against illegal drugs. Their motivation has not changed,” Taliño said.

On the other hand, Supt. Artemio Ricabo, CCPO’s deputy director for administration, assured that the city police would not falter in its drive to serve and protect the people “even though we have meager resources.”

“With the support of the community we are still confident that we can do our mandate and be effective in the performance of our duties,” he told CDN.

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