POLICEMEN in Western Visayas have remained neutral over the dispute among the claimants of the Maricalum Mining Corporation (MMC) in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental.
Superintendent Gilbert Gorero, spokesperson of Police Regional Office (PRO)–Western Visayas, in a press release Friday, March 16, said the issue on the Maricalum site is their “primordial concern.”
Thus, it prompted them to create a joint Sipalay City Task Force last week upon the order of Chief Superintendent Cesar Binag, director of PRO-6.
The task force is a multi-law enforcement agency, composed of Negros Occidental Mobile Force Company, 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU)–6, Regional Civil Security Unit–6, Highway Patrol Group–6, Regional Mobile Force Battalion–6, Philippine Coast Guard, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and other concerned government agencies.
With the creation of the task force, the regional office wants to assure the public that police operational procedures in conducting police response and operations will be observed by all uniformed personnel.
“We remain neutral but firm in delivering public safety and security services,” Gorero said.
PRO-Western Visayas is appealing to the elected officials, appointed national officials, and the community to cooperate in sustaining peace and order in Sipalay City.
They also encouraged the public to immediately report to the authorities, any presence of armed groups or sightings of suspicious persons in the locality.
Last Monday, Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil Jr., provincial police director, along with a legal officer, had a dialogue with the mine workers and executives of the MMC in Sipalay City to check the actual situation in the area.
Castil’s visit to the site came after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation-Manila, along with its local offices and the Philippine Army, swooped down the facility by virtue of a search warrant issued by a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge from Quezon City for illegal possession of firearms against a certain Noli Micabel and/or occupants of Warehouse 3-Port Area of the facility last March 5.
However, the raid that resulted in the recovery of 12 firearms was questioned by National Mines and Allied Workers Union (Namawu) coordinating lawyer Jovim Entila after learning that there was no single name of the arrested security guards that were included in the search warrant.
He also said that the 21 security guards assigned there were immediately replaced a day after the raid.
Entila explained that Namawu members took possession of the said property after they won the case following the closure of the said mining company years ago.