POLICE Regional Office 7 Director Lani-o Nerez paid Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia a courtesy exit call yesterday afternoon.

Garcia said Nerez's reassignment caught her by surprise.

"I was aware that he really needs to be moved up and this is for the preparation for his own promotion," she told reporters when asked for her reaction on Nerez's

transfer.

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Nerez will assume the post of director for the Directorate for Research and Development in Camp Crame.

Nerez will be replaced by Chief Supt. Ager Ontog.

However, Garcia said her brother Rep. Pablo John Garcia, who chairs the House committee on public order, will have “his own questions” on Nerez’s transfer.

The governor said she will still discuss with the police the plan on how the Provincial Government can help them and other law enforcement agencies in deterring and preempting crimes.

The governor described Nerez as “an epitome of an officer and a gentleman.”

"He has handled PRO 7 with utmost professionalism, dedication and efficiency. You in the media would be in the best position to know that. And I considered Region 7 to be lucky to have had the dedicated and professional service of Gen. Nerez who, though not a Cebuano by birth, certainly embraced our province, our people like one true-blooded Cebuano," she said.

She said she does not know Nerez’s replacement but she has great expectations after Nerez "set the bar, that standard."

The creation of a Provincial Task Force against the proliferation of loose firearms will be pursued under the new regional director.

"We will continue. Personalities may change but the service that the public deserve must continue," she added.

The proliferation of loose firearms was seen as one of the reasons for the spate of crimes in Cebu.

Nerez spent his last day at the office yesterday, as he was required to report to his new post today.

After spending a year, three months and 15 days as PRO 7 director, Nerez will be sent to a post that will pave the way for his promotion to a two-star rank.

Nerez, who received confirmation of his new appointment at 2:38 p.m. Wednesday, said he was already told last May that he may soon be relieved from the PRO 7.

He said that after two senior generals opted to retire, there were vacancies that had to be filled and that he was one of the senior regional directors being considered.

Nerez’s replacement is the chief of the National Operations Center in Camp Crame.

Ontog is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1980.

A turnover ceremony will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the PRO 7 quadrangle.

Performance

Nerez assured that before he leaves Central Visayas, he will brief Ontog on the cases that need to be prioritized, especially the slay of former Compostela mayor Joselito Reynes.

He said the denial of the writ of habeas corpus filed by Lucia Viloria serves as proof that the police is doing its job.

He considers the absence of a bank robbery, terrorist act or kidnap-for-ransom incidents during his term as one of his main operational accomplishments. He also hopes the PRO 7 will be able to maintain this.

While he lamented the many shooting incidents, he said the policy of creating special investigation teams to focus on each case was a successful strategy that led to the swift solution of many of these cases. He also noted the crippling of the illegal drug trade in the region, saying this led those in the trade to shift to guns for hire to be able to earn money.

He said it will be Ontog who will continue to neutralize the gun for hire group based in Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City.

Cebu Provincial Police Chief Erson Digal described Nerez as a “good leader and a good father.”

He said Nerez was an active regional director, who went to the far-flung areas of Cebu just to find out the progress of some cases.

Leader

Cebu City Police Office Director Patrocinio Comendador Jr. said he will miss the leadership of Nerez.

“He is the leader that I looked up to, in terms of integrity, capability and decisiveness,” he said, adding he had worked with Nerez in the younger days as a police official.

Comendador said Nerez did not get in the way of any investigation.

“He allowed his men to do the job. At times, he goes to a crime scene for ground assessment but allowed his men to prove their skills in a given situation,” Comendador said.