CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has been stripped of his operational supervision and control over the police force, as a result of his decision to withdraw support from the organization.
The National Police Commission (Napolcom) en banc issued a resolution revoking Osmeña’s deputation from the agency, effective immediately.
Napolcom’s decision came after Osmeña withdrew the City Government’s support to the police following the revamp that led to the transfer of some officials, including former Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) chief Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos.
The commission pointed out that when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last July 1, “his first peace and order campaign initiative was the eradication of illegal drugs.”
Yet “instead of supporting the pronouncement of the chief executive, Osmeña, as a local chief executive and deputized representative of the commission in the City of Cebu, had decided to withdraw all support from the CCPO,” the resolution dated Aug. 10 stated.
It pointed out that Osmeña had stopped giving allowances and rewards to the police officers newly assigned in the city. He also stopped giving fuel supply to the police service vehicles and “decided not to release the 15 patrol cars and three vans that were requested” by the former chief of the CCPO.
Napolcom 7 investigated and verified these acts, and then recommended the withdrawal of deputation of Osmeña “for engaging in acts inimical to national security or which negate the effectiveness of the peace and order campaign.”
The resolution was signed by Napolcom Chairman and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno, Napolcom Vice Chairman Atty. Rogelio Casurao, and Commissioners Felizardo Serapio Jr., Job Mangente, Zenaida Brosas, and Ronald dela Rosa, who is the PNP chief.
Past noon yesterday, officials of Napolcom 7 served the commission en banc’s resolution on City Hall.
Since Osmeña is in the United States for his annual medical check-up, the resolution was received by Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella at his office.
In an interview, Napolcom 7 Director Atty. Homer Mariano Cabaral said the revocation of Osmeña’s deputation means he no longer has any authority to choose a chief of police.
He also loses his disciplinary authority over the city’s police force.
Section 64 of Republic Act 8551 or the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 grants automatic Napolcom deputation to governors and mayors.
Section 51 (b) of Republic Act 6975 or the DILG Act of 1990 gives local chief executives the operational supervision and control over the police assigned in their jurisdiction.
It means they have the power to “direct, superintend, oversee and inspect the police units and forces” or employ and deploy units or elements of the PNP for the protection of lives and properties, enforcement of laws and maintenance of peace and order, among others.
Cabaral said it will be the Police Regional Office 7 that will oversee the city’s police operations.
He said it is the first time in the region that a mayor’s deputation has been revoked.
Only President Duterte can restore it, he added.
Labella, in a news conference yesterday, said he is saddened by the development.
“But this will not stop us from continuously joining and heeding the call of the President to fight illegal drugs and criminality and coordinate with the police or work hand in hand with them,” he said.
“We will make do with what we have. Let us not cry over spilled milk. We will work it out with the police,” Labella added.
When asked if Osmeña could lose his police security escorts, including SPO1 Adonis Dumpit, a police official said that is a possibility. He declined not to be named as he was not authorized to speak on the regional police office’s behalf.
Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa has the discretion to provide local government officials with officers who can serve as part of their security teams.
Napolcom’s resolution did not mention Osmeña’s security escorts from the police.
The police official said that the Department of Interior and Local Government can also decide on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed support in helping the police secure public places in all 80 Cebu City barangays.
The City Council passed last week a resolution appealing for the Central Command to help strengthen the enforcement of peace and order in the city.
“Aside from the police, we also need the military. The police are already busy pursuing drug users and pushers, and we can’t just focus on that. We should also focus on other crimes to fully maintain peace and order and that’s why we also need military visibility in the streets,” Acting Vice Mayor Dave Tumulak told reporters.
AFP and PNP personnel are expected to conduct checkpoints and roving patrols in the city in the coming days.
Each police station will be assigned AFP personnel to help in any matter threatening public security.
However, the PNP has asked the AFP not to bring long firearms when on duty, and instead, use handguns that can be concealed in their uniforms.
“Aside from the killings happening at night, this is also in accordance with the strict enforcement of our curfew ordinance. Instead of staying idle in their camps, it’s better that the army is outside, helping the PNP,” Tumulak said.
He also clarified that the AFP’s presence on the streets shouldn’t be seen as a sign of militarization.
“We just want to maximize security and peace in the city. That’s all. We are also yet to meet again this Friday with (Police Regional Office Director Chief Supt. Noli) Taliño on the date of our implementation,” Tumulak said.