POLICE Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño ordered the relief of seven police officers mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte as alleged drug protectors yesterday.
“They will have their day in court and answer all allegations of their involvement in illegal drugs, including former mayor Michael Rama,” he said.
Supt. Romeo Santander is the only commissioned officer under PRO 7 on the list. The rest are non-commissioned officers: PO2 Michael Cortez and SPO1 Onel Nabua, both of Barili Police Station; PO3 Ryan Martus Kiamco, Cebu Provincial Police Office; SPO1 Jen dela Victoria, Cebu City Police Station 5; PO2 Jomar Ibañez, Lapu-Lapu City Police Office; and SPO3 Christie Cielo Tingad.
Just last week, Santander was appointed as Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) deputy director for operations, replacing Supt. George Ylanan, who was transferred to PRO 10 (Northern Mindanao).
Sun.Star Cebu tried to interview Santander, but he begged off. The other officers could not be contacted as of press time.
In his speech shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, President Duterte told the 159 individuals on his list to report to the police director general, in the case of police officers, within 24 hours. All mayors and other local officials on the list were urged to report to Duterte himself.
“Report within 24 hours or I will order the entire armed forces and the police to hunt for you,” said Duterte.
He said there was no way the police officers on the list would get promoted soon. “Hintay kayo after six years,” he said, apparently referring to the end of his term of office.
In an interview, Chief Supt. Taliño said the police officers named by President Duterte were directed to report to Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa at 8 a.m. today.
The President said that the drug menace has spread so quickly—as shown by the 600,000 users and pushers who have presented themselves so far to the police—because “government personnel were into it.”
“I am sorry for my country. I grieve for the agony and suffering of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.
Cortez, one of the Cebu-based officers named, is currently the chief intelligence officer of Barili police.
A source from the police said that Nabua, who is in his 50s, is reportedly inactive. He supposedly retired early and now tends to his gamecock farm in Lutopan, Toledo City.
Taliño said he plans to transfer Santander to the Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit.
The other officers will also be turned over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for investigation.
Santander is member of Alpha Kappa Rho (Akrho) fraternity. His fraternity brother Clarence Paul Oaminal, a lawyer who previously served on the Dangerous Drugs Board, defended him on Facebook.
“I do not know the evidence against him, but it is in this time that our brotherhood is tested and I chose to stand by him. It is only the real and genuine Skeptrons that stands for a brother in the darkest part of his life,” a part of Oaminal’s message read.
Today is the 43rd founding anniversary of Akrho. Duterte’s youngest son, Sebastian, is also an Akrho member, according to Oaminal.
Before he was appointed as deputy director for operations of CCPO, Santander served with the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LCPO). The police official was the chief of Cebu City Intelligence Branch (CIB) before he transferred to LCPO.
In 2011, then a police chief inspector, Santander received an award as The Nation’s Best Junior Police Commissioned Officer of the Year, from former President Benigno Aquino III.
When he had become a superintendent, Santander and two of his CIB personnel were recognized in 2015 by Camp Crame for their accomplishments against the illegal drug trade.
The arrest of suspected drug lord Darwin Tibay in Barangay Inayawan last March 25, 2015 was among his accomplishments as CIB chief.
Last Sept. 20, the CIB operatives raided the residence of Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz in Duljo Fatima and seized P4 million worth of shabu.
Diaz, however, was not caught.
Diaz, identified by the police as the second biggest drug lord in Central Visayas, was killed by operatives from the Regional Intelligence Division and Regional Special Operations Group in Las Piñas City last June 17.
The operation was led by Ylanan and Supt. Rex Derilo, who was also recently transferred.
According to Cebu City Police Director Joel Doria, Santander was relieved of his position effective yesterday and was replaced by Supt. Timmar Alam from the City Public Safety Company.
“Napirmahan ko na po effective today yung order ni P/Supt. Timmar Alam po, ang concurrent DCDO (I already signed the order designating Supt. Alam as deputy city director for operations, in a concurrent capacity),” Senior Superintendent Doria said in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.
The deputy chief for administration, Supt. Artemio Ricabo, said the police have already facilitated Santander’s transfer to the Police Regional Office 7, his mother unit.
When asked if Santander and the non-commissioned personnel who were named by President Duterte had contacted them, Ricabo said they had not.
“We requested his transfer from CCPO to PRO 7 under the city director’s guidance effective today. They were asked to report to Camp Crame but for now, he’s still here in Cebu City,” Ricabo said.