Dumaguete LGU aid for police may be withheld
Juancho R. Gallarde (The Freeman) - November 10, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines — The Dumaguete City Council, in its deliberation for the 2018 budget, has recommended for the withholding of the assistance to the police until such time the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office can explain well that its sudden decision to relieve the Dumaguete City Police chief is above board.

The councilors had expressed disgust over the relief of Superintendent Jovito Atanacio, which they deemed as a "disrespectful act" of the NORPPO director Senior Supt. Edwin Portento, despite the mayor's request and the resolution of the City Council for the extension of Atanacio's stint at least until December.

Councilor Manny Arbon said the "unceremonious way" of replacing Atanacio "did not speak well of the PNP as an organization." He said that, if the police considers the local government unit as its partner, it should have extended the respect and courtesy of informing the LGU first of its decision.

Arbon and fellow Councilors Michael Bandal, Lilani Ramon, and Eslao Alviola, said they felt offended of the way Atanacio was pulled out because they were among those who supported a resolution commending the police chief for a job well done in the city this year.

As a result, Arbon recommended that the proposed P5 million aid to law enforcement units, including that of the police, be withheld pending an explanation from the provincial police director.

Arbon said the relief order was issued when Atanacio was on leave and while Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo was out of town. He said they were surprised Monday morning to learn that Atanacio was already replaced by Supt. Jonathan Pineda as the OIC chief of police.

Critics may consider this as a very small issue, Arbon said, but "a lot of ships sink because they don't mind the small leakage under the hull." He further said this kind of relationship needs to be nurtured, and it is not enough to say the police is merely following the policies on the assignments of police officers.

The City Council earlier approved Atanacio's retention for a few weeks, until December, to effect an orderly transition while Mayor Remollo also requested the police command requesting for the same, but Arbon said that what happened was like being hit behind their backs.

Councilor Alan Gel Cordova, peace and order committee chairman, said the law even mandates the mayor to choose-from at least three nominees for the post-under the constitutional requirement for a good working relationship between the police and the LGUs.

Cordova said he would not buy the idea that it was an administrative lapse on the NORPPO because its officials know very well that the appointment of the chiefs of police or provincial directors should be coordinated with the LGU concerned, and not bypass its chief executive.

Pineda was supposed to pay a courtesy call on Remollo on Wednesday, but the mayor was already in Manila for a meeting with the Department of Budget and Management on the funding of three bridges in the city.

Bandal, Ramon and Alviola, for their part, expressed doubts that somebody was behind the sudden replacement of Atanacio, because the latter and Pineda himself were also surprised about the order.

Ramon, Alviola and a former city councilor are members of the Police Advisory Council, which also include the media. Alviola had even proposed to increase every police allowance from P600 to P1,000 or P1,500 because he "is very satisfied with their performance under the leadership of Atanacio."

Councilor Jo Kenneth Arbas, on the other hand, wanted a reconciliation on this issue for both sides to reach out to each other for the good of the city. (FREEMAN)

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