CATBALOGAN CITY -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) had ordered the relief of Senior Superintendent Elmer Rafael Pelobello from his post as director of the Samar Police Provincial Office (SPPO), which he served for 161 days.
Pelobello, a member of PNP Academy Class 1988, was replaced by Senior Superintendent Rommel Abria Cabagnot of PNP Academy Class 1991, who formally assumed the office around 3 p.m. Thursday, November 26.
The turnover of command was administered by acting PNP Regional Director Cedrick Train at SPPO compound in Barangay Maulong, this city.
In July this year, Pelobello replaced Senior Superintendent Nolasco Bathan, apparently for his failure to address the problem on unsolved killings of village officials and political leaders in Samar.
Few months after Pelobello replaced Bathan, another killing occurred in Samar’s first district, but still the police faced a blank wall on the identities of responsible killers and the masterminds, perhaps prompting the PNP hierarchy to relieve Pelobello.
The Police Regional Office (PRO)-Eastern Visayas earlier said in a statement that it will get rid of all private armed groups operating in the province that are allegedly being maintained by some politicians.
The relief of Pelobello came few weeks after Ryan Cui was gunned down near his home in Calbayog City.
Politics is said to be the motive in the killing, as Cui is a known political supporter of Calbayog Councilor Raymund Uy, who is gunning for congressional seat in Samar’s first district under the banner of Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC).
Days later, another village official and one civilian, both known supporters of re-electionist incumbent Governor Sharee Ann Tan of NPC, were also “murdered” in Sta. Margarita town.
The police are still facing blank wall in their investigation on the spate of killings in Calbayog City.
Earlier, the entire police force in the first district of the province was relieved for its failure to address the series of killings, in which most of those cases are still unsolved.
But a police official who requested not to be named said the relief of Pelobello was just a “normal” routine and that it is a “command decision.”
Another source, however, opined that the relief of Pelobello had something to do with politics.
Last week, Pelobello led Samar police and stormed several suspicious personalities in Calbayog City during their "One Time, Big Time" operation, resulting in the seizure of illegal drugs, loose firearms and arrest of several individuals.
"May nasagasaan yan na malakas ang kapit sa taas, kaya natanggal agad," the source said but did not elaborate. (Ricky J. Bautista)