Tito, not Digong

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

The new director of the Quezon City Police District, Brig. Gen. Antonio Yarra, is unpopular among his subordinates.

He is not a stranger to Quezon City, as he was the commander of QCPD Station 6 during the administration of Mayor Sonny Belmonte.

Yarra was kicked out of Station 6 after some barangay officials and sidewalk vendors reportedly complained he was extorting bribe money from them.

From my experience as a police reporter, police officials who collect protection money from vendors are looked down upon by fellow officers. Fleecing vendors is like stealing from beggars.

He tried to make a comeback as QCPD director but was rejected in favor of Brig. Gen. Danilo Macerin.

When Macerin was relieved and reassigned somewhere else while awaiting retirement, Yarra took over from him on April 15, 2021.

My informants at the QCPD said that Yarra had not warmed his seat yet when he allegedly asked subordinates the sources of pagkakakitaan (earnings from bribes) in the city. It seems he never learned.

Yarra went into a five-hour harangue to his station commanders and other staff officers about how he would run QCPD, according to my little birdies.

“Di man lang kami pinakain ni hepe kahit na matagal ang kumperensiya (The chief didn’t even feed us in that long conference),” said one of my informants who was present at the meeting.

Recently, Yarra rubbed Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte the wrong way when he refused to accept a donation from City Hall of state-of-the-art forensics equipment for QCPD’s crime laboratory.

You’ll find his reason for refusing to accept the donation as harebrained, saying the bidding for the purchase of the forensics equipment was attended by graft!

Something must be wrong with this police general who, I learned, is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

Imagine, looking a gift horse in the mouth, a gift to the QCPD from no less than the city mayor herself!

Yarra is questioning the integrity of the mayor. Who is he anyway?

Does Yarra think he and Mayor Belmonte are equal? If he does, he should go back to the PMA and brush up on the subject of civilian supremacy over the police and the military in a democracy.

Yarra must be reminded that martial law is long gone; the country is back to civilian rule.

The general must be suffering from a time warp!

Or is he suffering from shell shock or battle fatigue as a result of fighting the Moro rebels in Mindanao or New People’s Army guerrillas?

But his career path shows that he’s always been in non-insurgency areas. He’s been shuffled around Luzon and given various assignments, probably as punishment or to keep out of trouble. An example of these possible reasons is his being moved out of QCPD Station 6 and reassigned to QCPD Station 2 in the Del Monte district which is, hear this, a promotion!

From Station 2, he was thrown to Nueva Ecija. In 2021, he came back to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) as deputy director for administration.

That’s the reason he got the QCPD assignment: he already had one foot in the door.

Whoever recommended Yarra as QCPD director probably didn’t know about his past misdeeds in the city.

Yarra’s recent caper was to try to call all Small Town Lottery (STL) operators to a meeting at the QCPD headquarters in Camp Karingal.

What’s wrong with that, you ask, since STL is legal and is run by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)?

STL is not legal in Quezon City because operating an STL booth has to have the approval of City Hall. The PCSO charter says the operation of STL should be approved by the local government.

In Tuesday’s column I said that the meeting took place, but my informants said Yarra had a change of mind at the last minute and called it off.

Apparently, somebody had tipped him off that STL is illegal in Quezon City.

*      *      *

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles calls for national unity to alleviate hunger among the poor at these critical times.

Nograles appeals to the private sector to contribute its share.

Hey! Whatever happened to the community pantry, where the poor could get food for free?

The first community pantry was set up on Maginhawa St., UP Village, Quezon City and was replicated in many parts of the country. As fast as the community pantry appeared it also disappeared, giving credence to the ningas cogon (a bushfire that swiftly ends) mentality of the Filipino.

If you can’t sustain your public generosity, don’t start it.

*      *      *

The Commission on Audit has ordered the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to return the “unauthorized” allowances and benefits of its officials and employees amounting to P25 million.

How can the Napolcom return the P25 million that it has given away?

Even if the COA files cases against the Napolcom and its officials and employees who benefited from the bounty, does it think the full amount will be returned?

The COA has been placed in a situation similar to that of a dog running after a moving car; if the dog catches up with the car, what now?

*      *      *

President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte will definitely not run for vice president in the 2022 elections.

What he said in his State of the Nation Address has ended speculations on whether Digong is running or not for the country’s second highest post, when he virtually endorsed Senate President Tito Sotto for the vice presidency.

“(Sotto) is a capable man and a good man (for the vice presidency),” said Digong.

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