Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan has thanked the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for acting swiftly on the city’s concern about a supposedly abrupt changing of the chief of the city police.
The mayor was referring to the immediate action of PNP Police Director General Oscar Albayalde, withdrawing the appointment of an officer-in-charge (OIC) city director in Baguio and reinstating former Baguio City Police Director Senior Supt. Ramil Saculles to the post, while the national PNP leadership is reviewing its list of eligible city police heads.
“We are not questioning if there is a need to change the posting of policemen, as they can be assigned anywhere in the country. However, they should also recognize that there are rules in the local government code and the PNP that give the local government the opportunity to be consulted in the screening of who will head the police force and implement the peace and order programs in the city,” he noted in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday.
Domogan said a sudden change of guard in the city police is uncalled for, when Baguio City is facing the risk of a spillover of an ongoing row between two tribes from Kalinga province, as some Ikalinga tribesmen stay in the city to either study or work.
The mayor, however, said the Kalinga tribesmen are signatories to a peace pact that says Baguio is a peace zone, where members of conflicting tribes are supposed to be spared from their conflict.
Domogan said the national government itself encourages coordination among agencies and the community.
“Sabi ng batas (The law says), coordinate. It is a matter of courtesy and respect, especially so that it is the officials of the city who are blamed by the residents if there are peace and order problems in the community,” he said.
On June 28, word spread that Saculles had been relieved from his post as Baguio City Police Director.
Until July 2, no communication was received by the city government on the change in the police leadership. But in the afternoon of that day, a turnover was held, posting Senior Superintendent Gerardo Omayao, former chief of police in Makati, as OIC city director of Baguio.
Domogan considered the turnover “unceremonious” and worried that it could affect the peace and order situation in Baguio. He, thus, immediately contacted Palace officials and the PNP headquarters. At the same time, the city council passed a resolution authored by Councilor Edgar Avila, urging the PNP to clarify the procedure of changing the chief of a locality’s police force.
Domogan reminded the PNP leadership that an officer-in-charge of the police force of Baguio must be someone who knows at least the geographical landscape of the city.
He said that whenever a locality’s peace and order situation is disturbed, it is always the local officials who are blamed for it. Thus, he pointed out, the local government must have knowledge of the movements in its own police force.
On July 3, the mayor’s office received a note that Albayalde had ordered the withdrawal of the appointment of Omayao to Baguio and ordered, instead, the return of Saculles as head of the city police. (PNA)
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