NAPOLCOM strips deputation: Osmeña loses police control
Odessa O. Leyson (The Freeman) - August 11, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña no longer has a say over policemen in the city after he withdrew his support for the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

The National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) withdrew Osmeña's operational supervision authority through a formal notice received by the office of Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella yesterday.

"True to his pronouncement to withdraw his support, Mayor Tomas Osmeña had decided to stop giving allowances and rewards to new police officers who were newly assigned in the Police Office. He likewise ceased in supplying gasoline to police service vehicles and decided not to release the 15 patrol cars and three vans that were requested by the former Chief, Cebu City Police Station," reads the resolution passed by NAPOLCOM.

"Accordingly, this Commission further declares that the duties, obligations, powers and prerogatives vested unto Mayor Tomas Osmeña as NAPOLCOM deputy under Section 51(b) of R.A 6975 and Section 64 of R.A 8551 are hereby REMOVED or REVOKED," it reads further.

Republic Act 8551 or the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 deputizes mayors and governors automatically as NAPOLCOM representatives when they assume office.

Section 64 of RA 8551 says "mayors, upon having been elected and living qualified as such, are automatically deputized as representatives of the National Police Commission in their respective jurisdiction. As deputized agents of the Commission, local government executives can inspect police forces and units, conduct audit, and exercise other functions as may be duly authorized by the Commission."

However, Republic Act 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990 says deputation may be suspended "for any of the following grounds: (1) frequent unauthorized absences; (2) abuse of authority; (3) providing material support to criminal elements; or (4) engaging in acts inimical to national security or which negate the effectiveness of the peace and order campaign,"

The President may, however, restore the power upon recommendation of NAPOLCOM.

Osmeña

The mayor is still in the United States following a medical check-up but said in a statement he will abide by NAPOLCOM's decision.

"I will abide by the resolution of Napolcom, but I would like to ask the Cebuanos to realize that the resolution is also Napolcom's admission that all peace and order in Cebu City is now their sole responsibility, as they just put on record that my hands are tied. Best of luck to them. Cebu City has many other problems, like garbage and traffic, so I will focus my efforts on those instead," Osmeña said.

He contended, though:

"You mean they're revoking something that I never had in the first place? Being denied the chance to choose someone to work with (which is a violation of the Local Government Code) was the very reason for my protest to begin with."

"Also, is this the same Napolcom that just approved the reassignment of Supt. Romeo Santander back to Cebu, the same Santander that President Duterte just named as a drug protector? I am sure many Cebuanos find this confusing," he added.

He also denied that the city has stopped supporting NAPOLCOM completely.

"I would like to remind them that the city is still paying the police incentive allowances as well as the BJMP's. The police still have 50 vehicles that are owned by the city. Many of the firearms that were recalled are not functional so they are now being repaired so they can be returned in working condition. Through the efforts of Cong. Bebot, the city is also putting up a drug rehab center in Labangon to the police have somewhere to put surrenderees. Look at this post. I am trying to emulate an American 911 command center! They don't consider that support?" he said.

Background

On July 14, Osmeña said he will stop the city's anti-illegal drugs campaign and would leave the same to the newly appointed police officials.

He said he was disturbed of the relief of former Police Regional Office - 7 director Patrocinio Comendador and Cebu City Police Office director Benjamin Santos.

"It's time consuming enough doing the other functions a mayor is expected to do. Imagine spending all the time and effort setting up a team and refining it until it finally works only to have it destroyed. Now, imagine having to build up a new team from scratch again with no guarantee that it won't be destroyed the next day. How frustrated would you feel?" Osmeña said yesterday.

From then on, he also ended giving monetary rewards amounting to P50,000 to policemen who could kill drug lords.

Work continues

Labella, meanwhile, said the situation is unfortunate considering that Osmeña is set to formulate policies and guidelines.

"Well will make do with what is now... let us not cry over (this) spilled milk… let's not say nga we will be discouraged in implementing the peace and order. We will do, we will work it out with the police and I'm sure even if there is no operational supervision, I'm sure that our police offices, our chief of police Doria is objective, fair and level-headed. Despite this, we will continue to work with each other and I'm sure the police also have their own projects and programs. We will continue on working hand in hand with them," Labella said.

Cebu City Police Office chief Joel Doria said he would comment once he receives a formal copy of the NAPOLCOM directive.

"I have no information on that po. Pag na-receive ko na lang po yung order kung meron man. Salamat po," he said in a text message sent to The FREEMAN.

For his part, Police Regional Office-7 Director Noli Taliño said the police have been very cooperative with the city government. He even recounted Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa appealing to Osmeña not to abandon the police.

"Si Mayor naman ang una nag-withdraw ng support… Sya na mismo ang nagsabi na on their own na ang pulis, kaya nakita siguro ng NAPOLCOM na wala na siyang interest sa pulis kaya tinanggalan na lang ng deputation," he told The FREEMAN.

He, however, admitted that the recent development would affect the operations of the police logistically but, "We are not bothered by it because of the support of the national government."

During his first visit in Cebu as Cabinet member, Interior Secretary Ismael "Mike" Sueno had warned against non-performing local chief executives in the fight against criminality especially illegal drugs. He said local executives might be stripped off deputation power if found to have been negligent of their duty.

As deputized agents of the Napolcom, local government executives can inspect police forces and units and exercise operational supervision and control over the PNP units in their respective jurisdictions.

They are also given power to choose the chief of police from a list of five eligibles recommended by the provincial police director and recommend to the provincial director the transfer, reassignment or detail of Philippine National Police members outside of their respective city or town residence. — with Michael H. Braga and May B. (FREEMAN)

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