CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña ordered the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), city councilors, department heads, barangay officials and City Hall employees to return the firearms issued by the City Government.
In a memorandum dated July 15, Osmeña directed all of these personnel to return their service firearms within five days after getting the memo. He said it was for an inventory.
“You are hereby directed to return all issued firearms under your possession to the City Government through the General Services Office (GSO) within five days from receipt of the notice. Henceforth, you can no longer use and possess these firearms owned by the City Government without my written consent or authority,” read the memo.
Records in the GSO showed the City has 254 assorted firearms, including 24 20-gauge shotguns, 59 9mm pistols, and 61 .38 caliber revolvers.
In a separate interview, Cebu City Police Director Joel Doria said that the recall of City-issued firearms will not affect police operations.
“Meron naman pong issued na firearms ang PNP so yun na lang ang gagamitin (The Philippine National Police has issued us firearms so we will just use those),” Doria told Sun.star Cebu.
He said that he will heed the mayor’s instructions for the recall.
The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 director also challenged Senior Superintendent Doria to prove to Mayor Osmeña that he is serious about the fight against illegal drugs.
“Sabi ko sa kanya ipakita mo na (I told him to do something to show) you deserve to be the director of Cebu City,” said Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, who added that Doria has his full trust and confidence.
Before the elections, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella had ordered the recall of these firearms but some officials failed to comply.
Ronald Malacora, officer-in-charge of the GSO, said there were at least 70 firearms, mostly given to the police, which were not returned to the City after Labella’s memo.
But as of yesterday, after Osmeña issued another memorandum, 22 out of the 70 were already turned over to GSO.
“There are still those who were not able to get a copy of the memo so we will serve this to them. After the five days given by the mayor, we will report to him those who failed to return and we will wait for his further order,” Malacora said.
In an interview, Osmeña said an inventory of these firearms will determine if those who were issued firearms, particularly policemen who have since retired, have returned the City’s guns.
“Many of those firearms are with police who are retired or no longer in Cebu. The City is not going to keep the firearms. We’re just trying to make sure the guns end up with police who are actually working here. Also, police already have their own firearms. It’s not as if they are going to run around Cebu unarmed while the inventory is conducted,” the mayor said in a Facebook post.
He made the post after Councilor Councilor Joel Garganera posted a copy of the memo, which he captioned, “All City-owned firearms issued to Cebu City police personnel are now being recalled by the mayor. God bless our beloved Cebu City.”
Osmeña clarified it was only for an inventory.
Relations between the mayor and some police leaders have been strained since some police officials were transferred against Osmeña’s wishes.
Last Thursday, the mayor said that Doria had been relieved as chief of police in Pasay City after the death of five people who attended a concert last May. They died reportedly from a drug overdose.
Taliño, however, defended Doria. He explained that the official was cleared of any liability over the incident because he was on leave at the time. The police officers had also been barred from going to the grounds where the concert was held by a toothpaste manufacturer.
“He is not a protector,” said Taliño of Doria.
The investigation was conducted by the National Capital Region Police Office, where Taliño was previously assigned.
“Nandiyan ang trust and confidence ko sa kanya dahil galing ng SAF (he used to serve with the Special Action Force) yan. Sa pagdating ng trabaho, no question about it. Magtatrabaho yan (He will work, no question about it),” Taliño told reporters yesterday.
The official also said he respects Osmeña’s decision not to distribute the 15 Toyota Fortuner units to the Cebu City Police Office’s (CCPO) Mobile Patrol Group.
The PRO 7 received yesterday 21 patrol cars from Camp Crame. These will be given to different units, including CCPO.
Even without the support of the mayor, Doria said that the police will continue their campaign against illegal drugs.
“Mabait naman si Mayor. Siguro medyo nabigla lang siya sa biglang palitan (The mayor is good. Maybe he was just surprised by the sudden change of personnel),” he said.
The city director also stressed that he was on leave when the Close Up Forever Summer concert tragedy claimed five lives.
“We even arrested the suspect who sold the ecstasy,” he said.
When asked about his reaction to the mayor’s concern, he said that he is open to any investigation.
“I have nothing to hide. Welcome na man sa ‘kin yan (I welcome that),” Doria said.
He promised the public that more drug suspects will be caught in the following days.
“Pag hindi sila tumino o tumigil, mag-ingat sila. Better yet, umalis na lang sila ng Cebu (If they don’t shape up or stop, they have to be careful. It’s better if they leave Cebu),” he said.