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Sunday, August 01, 2021

Briones: Changing his tack

THE staring contest is over. Or so it seems. And by the looks of it, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña blinked first.

Not that there was any question about the outcome. I don't know what he was thinking, taking on the Philippine National Police and the current administration's war against criminality and the illegal drugs trade. And all because he was upset that Camp Crame took away his man at the Cebu City Police Office and his recommendee at the PNP Regional Office 7.

Remember the initial tantrum? “Sila na magbuot (It's now all up to them). I won't do anything. Sila na ang bahala ana. Let them take over everything,” the mayor said back on July 14.

A week later, he still wasn't done. If police officials in the metro were relieved because of their alleged shabu links, then why were they running after suspected big-time drug lords. “How come all the drug (lords) were gone?” Osmeña had asked, referring to the deaths of Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria, David Anunciado and Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz. “Now, I'm beginning to see that he (PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa) doesn't trust us, he doesn't trust me, well, I don't trust him either,” Osmeña said last July 21.

Judging by these statements, the mayor was withdrawing his support from the organization, washing his hands of the PNP. I have a feeling, though, that he didn't take into account the PNP backlash.

First, the Napolcom stripped him of his operational supervision and control over the police force. Then, the PRO 7 recalled his security detail, including SPO1 Adonis Dumpit, and ordered the City Government to surrender to the police all its 249 unlicensed firearms for safekeeping.

PRO 7 Director Noli Taliño had said that only dela Rosa, as chief of the PNP, can assign police escorts to local chief executives.

Just recently, dela Rosa announced that Osmeña's “trusted colonel” was receiving P200,000 a week in protection money from suspected drug lord Franz Sabalones.

The mayor challenged him to name the official, but I don't think dela Rosa heard him.

Somewhere along the way, Osmeña must have realized that he wasn't going to win this “war.” Not when it appears that his opponent doesn't even consider him an equal, or at least someone who's worthy of a response.

So Osmeña changed his tack. He's now saying that he never withdrew his support from the police force. It's a perception that the public got wrong, he said.

“I never withdrew it, so don't spread the lies. I never withdrew the support, what support did I withdraw?” the mayor said the other day.

Last Monday, Osmeña dropped by the regional police headquarters. He said he was doing his morning walk at the oval across the street when he decided to proceed to the PRO 7.

Taliño later said Osmeña had been invited to attend the 115th Police Service Anniversary celebration.

Osmeña didn't stay long. “Naka-jogging pants man ko, so I just said hello and goodbye,” he said.

Whatever you say, Mayor.
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