October 26, 2007
Last night, Vice Mayor Gabby Bordado called me up to report that the car of one of the vice mayors attending their regional conference was broken into. Some important belongings were taken. This happened near Regent Hotel where they were holding the meeting. A year ago, probably this would have been big news. But with the way things are now and the spate of crimes lately, this seems to be an ordinary occurence.
What gives? The Naga City Police Department, which for a long time was considered one of the best police stations in the country, is demoralized. It is headed by an Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Col. Amor Macoy, who has been illegally designated. The PNP Legal Services, itself, opined that the OIC Regional Director Col. Bal Tira does not have the authority to designate OIC-Chiefs of Police, as he himself is merely an OIC. But it seems clear now that in our police organization, what prevails is the “rule of the influential” rather than the rule of law. (When I had an audience with with Former Chief PNP Oscar Calderon, he told me that Col Tira would be replaced. In fact, a turn-over was already scheduled. But, without any explanation, it was aborted after somebody close to Malacanan intervened.) Fourteen (14) local policemen were charged for alleged involvement in drugs and were reassigned to the PNP Regional Command. We knew that these were trumped up charges. The drug tests were negative. An informant from the District Jail informed us that some elements of the Provincial PNP Command under then Provincial Director Romeo Mapalo attempted to secure and antedate an affidavit from an inmate at the District Jail to pin some of these policemen on drug-related cases. Fortunately, the Regional Trial Court ruled that the reassignment was irregular and effectively restrained it.
Now, they have succeeded in securing an order transferring the fourteen (14) policemen to Camp Crame. While the fourteen (14) policemen did recognize the validity of the order, the city government did not, since this violated DILG’s and Napolcom’s regulations on transfer and reassignment of police elements. The rules require consultation with the local government units. No such consultation was conducted. But sadly, Napolcom has no fangs nor teeth to enforce its rulings. The policemen have gone back and forth to Camp Crame for three times already. They say that PNP-DIDM has recommended dismissal of the charges. Unfortunately, for the families of these police elements, the organization which their kin belong can not even protect its own men from the harassments of influential politicians. (No wonder jueteng can not be stopped. Politicians hold sway inside the PNP.)
The policemen in the city are demoralized. Their OIC Chief of Police was reported to have molested a lady guest while drunk inside Villa Caceres Hotel. While he denied molesting the guest, he admitted that he was drunk. No action was taken by his superiors on their designated OIC. When asked how a person could be robbed and shot after withdrawing money from ChinaBank at around noon time, he replied that the suspects simply timed the hit when no policeman was around. We need solutions instead of explanations. Like the other crimes that were committed (including a robbery that took place in a drugstore located inside the compound of the police headquarters), the police merely offered an explanation and not a solution. If this goes on, we surely can expect the worst. (Despite the apprehensions by the Naga City Public Safety Office of “jueteng cabos”, Col. Macoy still denies that there is jueteng in the city and the province as well.) The OIC Chief can not protect his men because he has to protect his superiors. Unfortunately, his superiors are indifferent to what is happening in his jurisdiction.
Two other police officers were ordered to undergo retraining. What surprises the residents of the city is that the two officers, Inspector Nick Garcia and Inspector Jojo Perez, are two of the best police officers of the local police. Apparently, their crime is that they have fully supported the initiatives of the local government unit to improve the peace and order situation in the city. Another policeman, SPO4 Diego Magpantay is about to be transferred out of the city. Apparently, his crime was his involvement in the anti-gambling campaign of the city government. He might have stepped on the toes of the “padrinos” of his superiors. Those who have been faithful to their jobs have been prosecuted and persecuted. Those who have been remiss have been promoted and protected.
This is what is happening given the kind of leadership that we now have at PNP – Bicol Region. This should be a test for the new PNP Chief Avelino Razon, Jr. Can he insulate the police organization from the unnecessary interference of politicians? I recall asking some senior police officers why the the police leadership do not stand their ground and protect their fellow officers in uniform. The timid answer was they can not count on their superiors when the going gets tough. The previous unsuccesful attempt to relieve and the recent relief of the fourteen (14) police officers from Naga City demonstrated that the PNP leadership is incapable of putting the interest of its men and the people they are serving, when pressured by influential politicians.
Who is then undermining the efforts to maintain peace and order in Naga City? The buck stops at the door of the PNP leadership in Camp Crame. In time, the community will realize that the police organization has failed them and rightfully put the blame on where it should be. I hope it will not take a serious incident to happen before the PNP comes to its senses.