A HIGH-RANKING police official said the visit of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to the Police Regional Office (PRO) Central Visayas on Monday morning, August 22, was a good sign.
Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, the PRO Central Visayas director, said he was glad to see Osmeña, who had recently expressed his withdrawal of support to officers newly assigned to the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), after his preferred chief was transferred elsewhere.
Taliño confirmed that the mayor congratulated the police on their anniversary and chatted briefly with him over coffee.
“I consider him as a friend. It’s a good sign na nagpunta siya dito (that he came here). Kahit ako imbitahin niya ako pupunta naman ako (If he invites me, I would accept, too),” said Taliño.
Osmeña was among the local government officials in Central Visayas that the regional director had invited to attend the 115th Police Service Anniversary celebration at the PRO Central Visayas headquarters. He didn’t stay long.
Asked about the mayor’s visit, his wife Councilor Margarita Osmeña sent this text message: “No concerns. He just dropped by there.”
Had Osmeña stayed, he would have met with the guest speaker of the event, Presidential Assistant Michael Dino, who in his speech said that President Rodrigo Duterte has been monitoring the plight of the CCPO.
“You are worried because more than 50 firearms were withdrawn. Worry no more as President Duterte has instructed to give Cebu City’s police force a number of firearms,” Dino said.
He also announced that the procurement of 15 vehicles and equipment is underway.
CCPO Director Joel Doria, for his part, said he was glad about the good news.
“Nagulat tayo, siyempre. Overwhelming yung tuwa natin….dahil sa support na inanawns kanina (I was surprised. I also overwhelmed by the announcement of support),” he told reporters.
Mayor Osmeña arrived past 7:30 a.m. and stayed in the waiting lounge, where he, Director Taliño and some retired police generals had puto maya.
After more than ten minutes, the mayor went out toward his car, accompanied by Taliño. Taliño later said they passed by National Police Commission (Napolcom) Central Visayas Director Homer Cabaral, who was reading the program near the gate.
It was Cabaral who implemented the Napolcom en banc’s decision to strip the mayor of operational supervision over the local police. He said he was not able to notice Osmeña walking pass by him.
Doria said he just accompanied Osmeña to the lounge, adding that they did not talk about the recent rift between the police and the city government.
For his part, Cabaral said he did not notice Osmeña.
“Nagbasa-basa man ko ato (I was reading),” he said.
When asked about the accusation that Napolcom Central Visayas gave the wrong information that led to the action against Osmeña, Cabaral said that the report they gave to the head office was the mayor’s own pronouncement of withdrawing support from the CCPO.
Meanwhile, Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot is now the subject of a lifestyle check by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which also ordered to revoke his permit to carry a firearm.
Like Osmeña, Loot has also lost his supervisory power over the local police. He is among the five police generals who were earlier identified by President Duterte as having links to the illegal drug trade, although Malacañang has yet to file any complaint against the retired police official.
In a press briefing in Malacañang on Monday, DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno said that since the DILG cannot come up with evidence for an administrative case against Loot as mayor, it is now conducting a lifestyle check on him.
“Since he is a new mayor, we cannot come up with evidence administratively against him as mayor… But what we are doing is we are conducting a lifestyle check on him to find out if his assets are proportionate to his income. So that is our strategy,” Sueno said.
“(Also), we already lifted his (Loot’s) supervision over the police and we have also cancelled his licenses to own guns and to have bodyguards. We also cancelled all those,” he added. (With report from Sunnex)