Wenceslao: Garma’s stint

Candid Thoughts

ROYINA Garma is the first woman chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO). That is noteworthy considering how male-dominated the police force is. That is historical even. Unfortunately for her, what should have been a celebrated moment in law enforcement in Cebu City got lost in controversies, conflicts and politicking.

Garma is set to file for early retirement from the police service in preparation for her appointment as general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. The story is supposedly semi-official but lacking a denial from Garma herself, that may just as well be considered as official.

Garma is close to President Duterte like former Philippine National Police chief and now senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa. Meaning that the story that Garma is being offered a high post in the civilian bureaucracy can’t be easily dismissed.

If Garma leaves, then I should say that Cebu City missed toasting a first in its history. Years or even decades ago, who would have thought that a woman would become CCPO director? Yet that point got downplayed because when she assumed the post, the Cebu City mayor was Tomas Osmeña. Considering Osmeña’s temperament and the circumstances prevailing at that time, there was no way Garma and the mayor’s relationship could be friendly.

Osmeña was open in his dislike for Garma and Police Regional Office 7 Chief Debold Sinas. That dislike showed in a number of ways and heightened when police operation against the illegal drugs trade turned bloody. Then came the elections this year when Osmeña ran against Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, who was friendly with both Garma and Sinas.

Osmeña lost to Labella in the elections, but not before he accused the police of siding with Labella and campaigning for the vice mayor. Every police move during the campaign period, including the mounting of checkpoints, became an issue. For the first time in recent electoral exercises, a mayor and his police chief seemed to be working on cross purposes in an electoral campaign.

When Sen. Panfilo Lacson headed the now defunct Cebu Metropolitan District Command or Metrodiscom, Osmeña was also Cebu City mayor. Lacson was able to forge friendly relations with Osmeña and the latter made the former bigger than life in the eyes of Cebuanos. Lacson became the city’s “adopted son.”

When Garma leaves the CCPO, she will be let go by a mayor friendly to her in Labella. But accolades given to her at this time would be a bit late and muddled by the conflict she had with Osmeña. It is therefore unfortunate that Cebu City’s first woman police chief would be underrated during her stint and uncelebrated when she leaves.

But I am sure that years from now, when the history of the city’s police force would be written, Garma’s stint would stand out not for the controversies she was in or the conflict she had with the mayor but because she is the city’s first woman police chief. That feat is rare in a male-dominated police force.

As to whether she did well in her stint, that still would be subject to a deeper scrutiny.


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