Woman power: The new Cebu City police director
Standing at 5’2, she is not as imposing as the other members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
But make no mistake about it.
Senior Supt. Royina Garma is no pushover in an organization dominated by men.
“Biologically, we vary. But when we talk of law enforcement and management, there’s no difference at all, “ declared the first female director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7).
“Whether man or woman, we both have brains and possess the same body parts,” she added.
The 44-year-old police official is feisty and she is rightfully moving up the career ladder to assume as director of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) tomorrow, July 1.
The appointment was made by Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde.
Garma will replace Senior Supt. Joel Doria who has completed his two-year term as head of the CCPO and is set to take a higher post at the national police headquarters in Camp Crame.
Garma, a native of Cagayan Valley, said she was elated to have been chosen as head of one of the country’s premier police offices.
“This position entails bigger responsibity but I have to accept it because this is rarely offered. I just could not refuse it,” she told Cebu Daily News.
As the new head of CCPO, Garma plans to focus on trying to minimize, if not eradicate, the illegal drug problem.
“I’ll have to maximize the capabilities of our policemen. I will strengthen the linkages with the local government units and stakeholders because I believe that if we want to address the problem on illegal drugs, it has to be a united effort,” she said.
“Arresting pushers and users is not enough to solve the problem. We have to work with other agencies and hope to establish remedies like providing rehabilitation and even livelihood programs to vulnerable sectors of the community,” she added.
Garma, who has been in active service for 21 years now, said she was happy that her new assignment is closer to home.
A single mother, Garma juggles her time between work and raising her 17-year-old daughter who is based in Davao City where she spent most of her years as a policewoman.
“I have to budget my time although technology makes it easier to communicate with my daughter,” she said.
Garma, the daughter of a retired policeman and nurse, has made her job her top priority.
“Family becomes secondary. I spend most of the time working as a policewoman, and even during holidays, we’re here to serve the people” she said.
Garma never thought of becoming a policewoman herself when she was young.
“I wanted to be a lawyer,” she said.
But in 1995, while going with her brother to the entrance exam of the Philippine National Police Academy, she ended up also taking up the test, not to be a cop; but to simply accompany her younger sibling who wanted to become one.
Things happened unexpectedly as her brother failed to pass the exams that year while Garma did.
She then decided to proceed with the trainings until her graduation in 1997.
“Perhaps, I’m destined to be part of the PNP. I began to love the profession,” she said.
Garma was first assigned at the police administrative office in Davao City for two months before becoming chief of the Anti Vice Office there.
She went on to be the head of Davao City’s Women and Children’s Protection Desk for five years and in 2004, was moved to the CIDG central office in Manila.
Garma was later appointed as chief of the Sasa police precinct in Davao City followed by a stint as head of the city’s Sta. Ana police precinct.
“That was a tough assignment. In Sta. Ana, I met Muslims and Chinese. That was not an easy task,” Garma said.
In January 2017, she was named CIDG-7 director.
Garma said that she is always grateful for the cooperation of Cebuanos especially in fighting all forms of criminalities.
“We know that evil triumphs when good men do nothing. No matter how small the crime is, we must nip it in the bud before it goes out of hand,” she said adding that policemen were grateful for the full support of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“President Duterte is doing everything he can to address the complexities of the illegal drug trade in our country. The issue here is are we going to succeed? He’s only one. He’s just leading us,” she said.
“If Filipinos won’t follow, we will not succeed. He needs our support. The success of his campaign lies with the Filipino people,” she added.
She said being a woman was never a hindrance to succeed at work.
“I don’t have to compete with men. If one looks at gender, we won’t become successful. It’s a matter of putting the right person in the right job. We look at the ability of a person to command and work with sincerity and comitment,” she said.
Upon assuming her post at the CIDG-7 last year, Garma issued a stern warning to criminals: “Don’t mess with me,” she said.
And apparently, no one has dared.
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