By Morexette Marie B. Erram and Delta Dyrecka Letigio |October 15,2018 - 11:30 PM

Tomas: Spate of murders happen after top police officials are assigned in Cebu

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is not done yet.

The local chief executive on Monday openly blamed the two top police officials in Cebu for the spate of killings in the metropolis.

“I will tell you, it’s the police. No, I take it back. It’s not the police. It’s Garma and Sinas. Our police is okay. Under (former Cebu City Police Office director, Senior Supt. Joel) Doria, we were the number one police department in the Philippines. That includes Davao City,” Osmeña said in an interview.

“When they (Garma and Sinas) came in, we have all of these killings. When they came into the picture, what happened?” he added.

Osmeña was referring to Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, director of Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), and Senior Supt. Royina Garma, director of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

The mayor made the statements in a press briefing shortly before members of his political party, the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Cebu City on Monday.

Sinas, in a separate interview, maintained that Cebu remains safe amid the wave of murders. (See separate story).

He, however, begged off from issuing a statement regarding Osmeña’s claim that the killings got out of hand when he and Garma assumed their posts four months ago.

For her part, Garma said the rising number of unsolved killings could be attributed to their intensified operations against all forms of crimes.

“I don’t know if he (Osmeña) considers being aggressive against illegal drugs and other forms of criminalities a sin,” she told Cebu Daily News over the phone.

Despite Osmeña’s tirades, the feisty policewoman said she and the entire police force in the city will continue to work and operate.

This is not the first time the mayor criticized Cebu’s top police officials.

In a live interview with online news website Rappler last August, Osmeña described his relationship with the local police as “not so good.”

A tally made by Cebu Daily News showed that at least 198 persons had been killed from February to Oct. 12.

Of the number, 47 were killed in separate police operations while the rest were gunned down by unknown assailants.

Most of these murders remain unsolved.

Some Cebu policemen had been linked to at least three separate shooting incidents in the past three months.

Last July 30, PO1 Eugene Calumba was killed by the bodyguard of Tejero Barangay Councilor Jessielou Cadungog after the policeman allegedly tried to ambush the councilman’s vehicle.

Barely a week later, on Aug. 8, SPO1 Roderick Balili was linked to the ambush of Von Rian Tecson, an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-7) agent, in Carcar City.

Balili also died of two gunshot wounds in the chest allegedly inflicted by Tecson as the latter lay dying in his vehicle.

Sinas denied Balili’s involvement in Tecson’s death, saying the policeman accidentally shot himself on the chest twice inside his vehicle while on surveillance operation.

Last Oct. 4, five persons were killed along the Trans-Central Highway in Barangay Malubog in Cebu City.

Two survivors claimed that policemen brought them to the mountain village where they were shot past 3 a.m.

The killings in Cebu attracted the attention of the opposition senators who called for an inquiry.

The minority bloc filed Senate Resolution No. 915 because they were “gravely concerned” with the killings in Cebu, especially after allegations that police officers implementing the government’s war on drugs were allegedly involved in extra-judicial killings.

Osmeña, however, was not pleased with the move of the Senate’s minority bloc.

“Why do they always say they call for an investigation? Every other day they call for an investigation but they do not investigate. Let hem talk whatever they want… But I will comment on that (investigation on the killings) in the proper time,” he said.

Sinas, for his part, said the PRO-7 was ready for any inquiry, saying they were not hiding something.

“We are preparing our data and statistics to show our report in case the inquiry will push through,” he said.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III offered the Capitol Social Hall as the venue for the proposed Senate inquiry.

“We welcome that development so we can really determine the causes of these crimes. I guess that is good to prove once and for all if the police have a hand in the killings,” he said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde also on Monday said they would not hide anything should a Senate probe push through on the rise in killings in Cebu.

“We will support the probe. Palagi ‘yan kung merong mga investigation or talagang merong (That’s how it has been, that when there is an investigation or there is a resolution that necessitates an investigation, we are always supporting investigations. The PNP is not hiding anything,”

Albayalde said in a press conference in Camp Crame. /with reports from Rosalie O. Abatayo, Nestle Semilla, and

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