Police general implicated in Lozada ‘kidnap’ now heads Region 1 police
- Jun Elias () - February 28, 2008 - 12:00am

CAMP FLORENDO, La Union – The head of the Police Security and Protection Office in Camp Crame, who was implicated in the alleged abduction of ZTE whistle-blower Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., took over as the new police director of the Ilocos region here yesterday.

Chief Superintendent Romeo Hilomen, who is facing charges at the Office of the Ombudsman and Department of Justice, replaced Chief Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil who was designated as head of the Directorate for Police Community Relations at the PNP headquarters. 

Both Hilomen and Bataoil belong to the Philippine Military Academy’s Magilas Class 1976. 

Deputy Director General Jesus Versoza presided over the simple turnover ceremony at the Masigasig Center here.  

Hilomen told The STAR that his designation as Ilocos regional police director was made even before the Lozada incident.

He said Versoza endorsed him for the position as early as January and that it was subsequently approved by PNP chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr. and President Arroyo.

Versoza said the absence of Bataoil, who is on an official trip to China along with other police officials, during the turnover ceremony should not be misconstrued.

Bataoil is arriving tomorrow after the five-day goodwill mission sponsored by the Chinese government. 

Hilomen said he snubbed the Senate hearing on Tuesday on the alleged kidnapping of Lozada at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last Feb. 5 because cases have been filed with the Department of Justice and Office of the Ombudsman. 

“I did not show up at the Senate because a case has already been filed so anything we say at the Senate will be used against us. That is self-incrimination, so I might as well not attend and we will just wait for the Supreme Court if it will issue a temporary restraining order or not,” he said.

Hilomen, together with NAIA and police officials, were accused of abducting Lozada to prevent him from testifying at the Senate inquiry into the ZTE-NBN deal. 

For his part, Bataoil, who was in Fujian province, told The STAR in a text message that he welcomes the appointment of his mistah Hilomen as Ilocos regional police director.

“May I thank the officers, men and women of PRO1, the local officials, and the people of Region 1 for all their support that helped make us No. 1 nationwide for 2006 and 2007,” Bataoil said.  With Myds Supnad

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