A DAY before the ban on transfers of police officers took effect last Sunday, Camp Crame ordered a major revamp in the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7.
As a result, Cebu Province and the cities of Cebu and Mandaue will have new police chiefs during the election period.
Senior Supt. Marciano Batiancela Jr. accepted the order for him to relinquish his post as chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), despite being the local executive’s choice to become the permanent police chief.
“Mao lagi, ato nang dawaton (It’s already here, so I have to accept it),” Batiancela said after a meeting with his police station chiefs yesterday noon.
Although relieved from his post, Batiancela said he will still head the Task Force Sinulog that will secure the festivities all throughout this week. He declined to answer more questions.
Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos Jr. was designated as officer-in-charge of the CCPO. Santos is from the office of PNP Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr. Garbo served as PRO 7 director from September 2011 until August 2013.
Supt. Renato Dugan, officer-in-charge of the PRO 7 Regional Personnel and Human Resource Development Division, also confirmed that relief orders also arrived for Senior Supt. Noel Gillamac, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO); Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) officer-in-charge Supt. Julian Entoma; and Regional Public Safety Batallion (RPSB) 7 Commander Senior Supt. Clifford Gairanod.
Also relieved was Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, who is the acting PRO 7 directorial staff chief.
Supt. Marcelo Dayag will take over as CPPO chief, while Gillamac was told to report to the PRO 7.
Senior Supt. Jonathan Agdamag Cabal was designated as officer-in-charge of the Mandaue City Police Office. He is from the office of PNP Chief Director General Ricardo Marquez.
Suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he believes these movements were politically motivated.
“What are they doing? This is a manifestation of martial law. Mas maayo pa man to sa una kay ang martial law duna may proclamation (At least with martial law, there was a proclamation). I can’t understand the political mechanism they go through,” Rama said in a news conference yesterday.
Earlier this year, police officials were reportedly told to expect a revamp before the elections. This was supposed to apply to those who have relatives running for office in their area of responsibility and those who have been in the same post for more than two years.
Aside from Batiancela, three officials from the CCPO were reportedly relieved yesterday.
They are Chief Insp. Chuck Barandog, who received a couple of regional police awards last year for organizing community-oriented programs while leading San Nicolas Police Station; Chief Insp. Noel Lomente, who led the Carbon Police Station; and Supt. Merbert Esguerra, who led the Cebu City Public Safety Center.
Batiancela, formerly community relations chief of the PRO 7, was appointed chief of the Cebu City police in March last year.
Rumors also spread yesterday that the newly-installed PRO 7 director, Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, would be replaced by Chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador.
When sought for a statement on the issue, Gaerlan sent this text message to Sun.Star Cebu: “Rumors? On whose orders daw?”
Comendador, who got his first star last December, is the directorial staff chief of the National Capital Region Police Office. He previously served as director of the CCPO and CPPO.
“Rumors are rumors. But, officially, our regional director is still Chief Supt. Gaerlan,” Lawas said.
Interviewed separately, Rama lamented that his choices for police chief have never been allowed to stay in office for long.
When he became mayor in 2010, Rama recalled, former CCPO Director Melvin Ramon Buenafe was removed when Garbo was PRO 7 chief.
When the position was vacated, Rama went to Camp Crame to endorse the appointment of former CCPO director Noli Romana. Romana was appointed as acting chief, but later on removed.
“If you remember I said, ‘Give me back my chief of police. Where is my chief of police?’ during that time but what happened? When I already had a new chief of police, who carried my confidence, then came Garbo making an issue against Noli Romana,” Rama said.
He pointed out that Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has already endorsed Supt. Batiancela to be the permanent CCPO director.
Labella confirmed that he endorsed five names to the PNP. Santos was not on that list.
Section 51 of Republic Act 6975 provides that the local chief executive has the authority to choose the police chief, in accordance with his or her supervision and control over PNP units.
“I just would like to know that this has been complied with. I would like to know if this has been observed on the matter of the appointment of the chief of police,” Labella said.