Espinoza: Goons?

Free Zone

IF MY memory serves me right, I think this is the first election in Cebu City where the police hierarchy and the local chief executive are at loggerheads. On several occasions, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña complained through his Facebook account that news reporters picked up the present actions of the policemen that he took it as “police terrorism.”

It is only in this administration that Mayor Tomas is not aligned because he supported Mar Roxas in the last presidential polls. But in the administrations prior to President Duterte, Mayor Tomas was like a “darling” to the past presidents. He gets what he wants. Now, he’s orphaned from the national leadership.

But PRO 7 Chief, Police Regional Director Debold Sinas was quick to respond that the checkpoints the police conducted were legitimate as this has the nod of the Commission on Elections (Comelec). General Sinas did not, however, squarely answer the accusations of Mayor Tomas that the police are acting as goons of his opponent, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, who just laughed it off.

What’s even funny is that Gen. Sinas ordered the recall of the policemen who conducted the checkpoint near the house of Mayor Tomas after they received the sandwiches that Councilor Margot Osmeña offered them. The general should have considered it as an act of charity from Mrs. Osmeña instead of faulting his men on the field.

Be that as it may, what really is the source of Mayor Osmeña’s beef with the police? To recall, it all started when the new police administration under then chief Bato dela Rosa replaced the city’s chief of police without giving the city mayor even just a little attention.

Irritated, Mayor Tomas ordered the recall of all the city-issued police cars. Since then, the relationship between Mayor Tomas and the police hierarchy soured.

Gone were the days that the police are used as goons by the politicians. In those years before martial law the policemen were appointed and were under the authority of the municipal or city mayor, hence, every election they were considered as the mayor’s goons.

On Aug. 8, 1975, per Presidential Decree 765 the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and the police were merged into the PC-Integrated National Police. In 1986 after the People Power Revolution, RA 6975, an Act Establishing the Philippine National Police under a Reorganized Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), was signed into law on Dec. 13, 1990.

But on Feb. 17 1998, RA 8551, otherwise known as the “PNP Reform and the Reorganization Act of 1998,” was enacted to further strengthen the PNP into a highly efficient and competent police force. RA 8551 amended certain provisions of RA 6975.

The PNP is now directly under the Office of the President through the DILG. But under this law, the local chief executives still have the operational supervision over the police. Under Section 51, RA 6975, the governors and mayors are the deputized representatives of the National Police Commission in their respective territorial jurisdiction.

Paragraph (b) of Section 51 states: “The city and municipal mayors shall exercise operational supervision and control over PNP units in their respective jurisdiction except during the thirty (30) day period immediately preceding and the thirty (30) days following any national, local and barangay elections. During the said period, the local police forces shall be under the supervision and control of the Commission on Elections.”

Perhaps, Mayor Tomas anchors and insists on his authority over the city’s police under this provision of RA 6975. But because he is not aligned with the current national leadership, it follows that the police’s obedience is with the Duterte administration. That’s life, Mayor!


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