WHY were policemen looking for the village chiefs of Buot-Taup and Agsungot in upland Cebu City last Friday night, April 12?
Mayor Tomas Osmeña wants to know from Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Chief Royina Garma, hinting again that policemen are harassing his political allies in the mountain barangays.
The mayor urged Garma to investigate the incident.
Osmeña said the police would be blamed if Garma did not investigate it.
“If this is the same police that went to the Agsungot captain’s house last week at one in the morning with no warrant WHILE WEARING MASKS, demanding that he come out so they could take a picture lang, then this is obviously a case of harassment. An official letter will be drafted demanding to know the identities of the men in the patrol vehicle seen in this CCTV (closed circuit television camera) capture,” he said in a post on his Facebook page on Saturday, April 13.
“If CCPO refuses to identify the personnel who were in Buot-Taup and Agsungot last night and what they were doing there, and especially if they refuse to help identify the men who left the live round behind or update the people on who was responsible for the three strafing incidents that occurred last week, then it is obvious that police leadership is COMPLICIT if not outright RESPONSIBLE for these events,” Osmeña added.
Last April 4, Osmeña had given the police 10 days to solve the strafing of the houses of Sudlon 2 Barangay Captain Prescillo Albores, Sinsin Barangay Captain Aurelio Laspoña and the village chief of Malubog.
Otherwise, he said, he would accuse the police of being behind the strafing incidents and he wouild suspend the allowances of all police assigned in mountain barangays.
The 10-day deadline lapsed on Sunday, April 14.
In the incident in Agsungot, Osmeña narrated that around 8 p.m. on April 12, a team of unidentified policemen reportedly went to the house of Agsungot Barangay Captain Pedro Dumaolao, but a caretaker told them that the official was not around.
Twenty minutes later, the police conducted a checkpoint near the water refilling station of Buot-Taup Barangay Captain Richard Bacayan.
Three unidentified men later arrived in the water refilling station and asked about Bacayan’s whereabouts.
They reportedly left a bullet of a .45 pistol outside the establishment after learning that the village chief was not there.
Osmeña said the police were right by the road leading to the refilling station when it happened.
“It is extremely suspicious that they did not ‘see’ anything. It is equally suspect why they would approach Captain Dumaolao’s house in the evening without announcing their intentions and refusing to identify themselves,” he said.
Bacayan and Dumaolao are supporters of Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), the political group headed by the mayor.
“What say you, CCPO? What say you Labella? Will you continue to defend the police since the only people being harassed are all BOPK captains? Or are you going to continue to justify their actions by saying all the people being harassed are ‘violators’ who are subject to ‘legitimate police operations?’” Osmeña’s post read.
Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella is challenging Osmeña’s reelection bid in the May 13 midterm elections.
When sought for comment about Osmeña’s statements, Garma said: “It’s the mayor’s opinion.”
For his part, Labella said it is not his character to harass village officials just to gain their support.
“My record will speak that I neither bullied nor intimidated anyone for whatever purpose. I always uphold to respect my fellow beings (because) that’s what our father taught us,” he said.
Labella, a lawyer, said his political opponent has become uncomfortable.
“I think the record will show who is prone to bully or intimidate anyone and certainly it’s not me. I am just surprised now why Mr. Osmeña has become paranoid—anything that happens, he always attributes it to me,” the vice mayor said.
Osmeña and Labella confirmed their participation in a public debate initiated by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City chapter on April 22. (FROM PAC OF SUPERBALITA CEBU / KAL / WITH JOB)