Mike Rama’s lament

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Saturday, February 9, 2013


MAYOR Mike Rama has his faults but being temperamental is not one of them. I have known Mike since the early eighties; he was the “crush ng bayan” in the university where I taught and where he spent his first two years in law school before he transferred to San Beda College.

After he passed the bar, we played for the same basketball team of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. He also joined and eventually became president of the Young Lawyers Association of Cebu, of which I was a founding member. Mike already loved to talk when we were younger but I never saw him lose his cool. Not even once.

It therefore came as a shock, listening to the mayor a little over a week ago sharply scolding Police Director Marcelo Garbo Jr., threatening to padlock the latter’s office in Camp Sergio Osmeña and demanding that he be relieved. All because the police regional commander sent armed policemen to the Capitol on Feb. 1 when Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale had the office of suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia padlocked.

Mike said he was miffed because Garbo did not coordinate with him despite the fact that as mayor he has operational control and supervision over the police.

I thought that his rare outburst was one of those passing things; that soon he would get over his displeasure and turn to more pressing concerns such as his re-election campaign. After all, even Garcia has apparently come to terms with her having been locked out of her office and the circumstances attending the same, including the heavy police presence.

However, I read yesterday that Rama had written Garbo demanding an explanation not only for the Jan. 31 incident but also for, to quote Sun.Star Cebu, “the series of police deployment at the Cebu Provincial Capitol” starting on Dec. 19, 2011 when the suspension order was served on Garcia and culminating on Feb. 1 this year when an alleged battalion of policemen was assigned to maintain peace and order at the Capitol.

Obviously, Rama has neither forgotten nor forgiven Garbo for not giving importance to the mayor’s authority and control over the local police force.

Indeed, the Constitution does provide (Sec. 6, Art. XVI) that local executives shall have, as may be provided by law, authority over the police units in their jurisdiction. In Carpio vs. Executive Secretary, the Supreme Court said that local executives exercise operational supervision over the police and control in day-to-day operations.

But how do you define supervision and control? Does this mean that a police commander cannot order his men to respond to an emergency or even perform routine functions of maintaining the peace without the consent of the local executive?

The following comment made during the deliberations by the Constitutional Commission on the subject of police control is instructive:

“By experience, it is not advisable to provide in our Constitution or by law full control of the police by the local executive and local executives, the mayors. By experience, this has spawned warlordism, bossism and sanctuaries for vices and abuses.”

It is worthy to note that since Dec. 19 last year up to the present, there has been no major violent incident in connection with Magpale’s takeover at the Capitol. Is it possible that the presence of so many policemen in the vicinity had dissuaded potential troublemakers from carrying out their plans?

If so, shouldn’t the mayor, instead of demanding an explanation from Garbo, be sending his congratulations to the latter for a job well done?

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 10, 2013.

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