By: Nestle L. Semilla September 02,2018 - 10:19 PM

RELIEVED, REPLACED. Talisay City policemen (foreground) quietly gather after the city police’s 65-man uniformed force was ordered relieved by Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) Director Chief Supt. Debold Sinas and watch in silence as the members of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (background) prepare to take over their vacated posts on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018. Sinas’ relief order came after President Rodrigo Duterte declared that most of the city’s police officers were involved in the illegal drug trade.


Starting today, not a single policeman that used to serve Talisay City, except for the city’s police chief, will be around.

Instead, personnel from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Central Visayas (RMFB-7), an elite strike force of the Philippine National Police (PNP), will now man the city’s police station and patrol the city’s streets.

This after Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) Director Chief Supt. Debold Sinas ordered the relief of all the 65 policemen of the Talisay City Police Station (TCPS).

Only Supt. Marlu Conag, who was assigned as Talisay City Police chief only three months ago, and five Non-uniformed Policemen (NUP) were spared.

“Malala ang problema sa drugas dinhi sa Talisay naa say mga kagaguhan nga nahitabo diri (The drug problem here is worse and foolishness was happening here). It only proves naa tay problema (there is really a problem). Effective (on Sunday), all of you will be relieved,” Sinas told the Talisay

Police force on Sunday morning.

The relieved officers will be replaced by 70 personnel from RMFB-7, which is composed of policemen with the ranks of Police Officer 1 (PO1) and Police Officer 2 (PO2).

The relieved cops from Talisay were sent to the RMFB-7 headquarters in Sibonga town to undergo a boot camp of sorts, or a “retraining” for six months.

Before they left the station, all of the relieved cops were also subjected to a surprise drug test.

Sinas added there will be another 10 personnel from the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) who will be assigned to key positions at the TCPS.

Duterte’s pronouncements

Sinas ordered the relief of Talisay policemen following the announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte that most of the city policemen are
involved in the illegal drug trade.

“There are two reasons (why we relieved the personnel). One, because of the pronouncement of President Duterte, which he emphasized (that most of the police in Talisay are involved in illegal drugs) during his visits here in Cebu last month,” said Sinas.

“Second, the problem on drugs (in Talisay); we have to address it,” added Sinas.

On Aug. 21, President Duterte specifically mentioned Talisay City as a hotbed of illegal drugs during his speech before the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Visayas Island Cluster Conference at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City.

On his second visit on Aug. 30 during the charter day anniversary of Mandaue City, the President once again mentioned Talisay City and it’s police officers that are allegedly involved in the narcotics trade.

Right after the second presidential visit, Sinas said he received a directive from the President to check the problem of illegal drugs in the city,

especially the information that the police in Talisay were complacent because they were too afraid of the drug personalities in the city.

And one way to address these problems, not only on illegal drugs but also on police personnel, is to relieve all of them, said Sinas.

Used to changes

In a separate interview, Conag said he was used to new comrades or personnel since he was once part of Special Action Force (SAF), the national counter-terrorism and commando unit of the PNP.

“Sanay naman tayo diyan sa mga redeployment, bagong kasamahan, bagong battalion pero big challenge pa rin kasi police station ito eh. Ganun ulit, we will exert our best effort sa bagong scheme natin,” said Conag.

(I am already used to changes like redeployment, new comrades, new batallion but it is still a challenge since we are talking about a police station here. So we will just exert our best effort to this new scheme)

On the illegal drug problem in the city, Conag admitted that the situation was bad, as all 22 barangays of the city are drug infested and half of them are categorized as drug hotspots.

Conag added that Barangay Tangke is the most drug-infested area in Talisay.

Prior to the assignment of 70 RMFB personnel to Talisay, 10 personnel from the battalion have been deployed to Barangay Tangke.

“Inaraw-araw nang battalion natin yung anti-drug operation. Araw-araw may nahuhuli tayo sa Barangay Tangke,” said Conag.

(Our battalion conducted anti-drug operations every day. And they arrested drug personalties every day in Barangay Tangke)

During the first “one time, big time” operation (OTBT) in the city conducted by PRO-7 last July, three high value targets were killed in different barangays in Talisay. At least 20 suspected drug personalties were also arrested.

During the second OTBT last month, another high value target was killed and an alleged member of the Parojinog Drug Group was arrested in Barangay Tangke.

Last Aug. 29, nine drug suspects were arrested and P5 million worth of suspected shabu were confiscated during a city-wide operation of the Talisay City police.

Despite their accomplishments in their anti-drug operation, Sinas said there are still big time drug pushers operating in Talisay that remained scot-free.

“Balhin-balhin rana sila og barangay (They keep on transferring from one barangay to another),” said Sinas.

Pilferage probe

Aside from the relief order, Sinas also ordered to have the eight police investigators of Talisay City placed under investigation for pilferage.

Sinas said that prior to the pronouncements of the President about the state of the Talisay police, he received reports that there were deliberate reductions in the amount or number of evidence involving some cases, mostly those involving seized drugs.

“This was further confirmed by the Crime Laboratory nga ang madawat nila kuwang na sa unsay nakasulat sa report sa mga arresting officers. Naay kagaguhan nga nahitabo,” said Sinas.

(This was further confirmed by our Regional Crime Laboratory where the evidence they received does not match the report from the arresting officers)

Sinas said the pilferage did not only happen once or twice but in a number of operations conducted by the Talisay City Police Station.

“Pasensiyahan na lang ta kung mapamatud-an naa moy binuang gihimo (Sorry, but there is no clemency if the evidence will prove your wrongdoings),” Sinas told the relieved cops.

Young Mobile Force

They maybe rookies but they are not incompetent.

This was the collective message of the 70 RMFB-7 personnel after they were deployed in Talisay City on Sunday.

Chief Insp. Ardiolito Cabagnot, the team leader of the RMFB-7 personnel assigned to Talisay City, said that being assigned to a “controversial” police station is a challenge for them.

“Nagiging big challenge sa amoa considering atong sakop are all PO1 and PO2 so matawag pa nga rookie sa serbisyo,” said Cabagnot.

(It is a big challenge for us considering that our men are all PO1 and PO2 who are still rookies in the service)

Cabagnot added that the men and women in RMFB-7 may be inexperienced but this does not mean they are incompetent.

“Sanay kami sa bukid, iba itong terrain (here in Talisay) especially it is a city. But nakita siguro nila (top officials in PRO-7) nga kami gibutang dini kay kami ang most qualified and fit to make a change. We hope malagpasan namo ang mga accomplishment (of the previous police personnel),” said Cabagnot.

(We are used to jungles, and Talisay has a different terrain, especially since it is a city. But the top officials in PRO-7 saw that we are the most qualified and fit to make a change. We hope we will be able to surpass the accomplishment of the previous police personnel)

Could not be reached

Cebu Daily News tried to reach the city’s top officials for comment but to no avail.

Calls and texts were made to Talisay City Mayor Eduardo Gullas and Vice Mayor Alan Bucao for their statements but there were no responses.

Meanwhile, Provincial Board (PB) member Sun Shimura, the chairman of the committee on public safety, peace and order, said he respected the decision of PRO-7 to relieve the police officers in Talisay City.

“It is the discretion of the regional director so wala gyud ta’y mahimo (we cannot do anything about it). If tan-aw nila (they think) they need to do that for the improvement of peacekeeping and (to meet) the desire of the President nga malimpyo ang maong syudad (to free the city from illegal drug infestation), so be it,” he told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.

When asked if the massive revamp could have a negative impression on Talisay City, Shimura refused to comment any further. /With REPORTS FROM CORRESPONDENT JESSA MAE F. SOTTO

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