Cebu mayor wants cops, barricades out of capitolBy Chito Aragon, Doris Bongcac, Jhunnex Napallacan
CEBU CITY—City Mayor Michael Rama wants the policemen pulled out and the barricades removed from the Cebu provincial capitol.
The mayor said he did not want to give the impression, especially to the Sinulog festival visitors, that the city was having a peace and order problem.
Policemen have been deployed at the Cebu Provincial Capitol since Dec. 19, 2012, when the suspension order against Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia was implemented to discourage the gathering of Garcia supporters in the area.
Iron railings were also installed in front of the capitol to serve as barrier.
“I do not want them to be seeing the capitol like a garrison or to have the impression that the city is under siege,” Rama said.
He added that he, as the mayor, should be directing events in the city and not the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7).
Since the capitol was located within his territory, his order should be respected, he added.
Rama told a news conference on Thursday that he instructed Senior Supt. Mariano Natuel, Cebu City Police Office director, to coordinate with Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, PRO-7 director, to remove the barriers and pull out the police detail at the capitol.
Garbo said in an interview over station dyLA that he could not pull out all the policemen because their deployment was requested by acting Gov. Agnes Magpale.
“What we will have now in the Capitol is a minimum police force because that is the request of the acting Gov. Agnes Magpale. There are critical areas (at the provincial capitol) that still have assigned policemen,” he added.
He said the number of policemen deployed at the Cebu Provincial Capitol had been reduced to less than 50 from more than 200 when the suspension order was served on Dec. 19.
He added that the barricades have also been removed.
Rama, an ally of Garcia, said he did not see anything wrong with allowing Garcia supporters to assemble at the capitol grounds to express their support for the suspended governor.
The mayor had visited Garcia in her office thrice.
Rama said the Constitution guarantees the freedom of assembly so every Cebuano should be allowed to exercise it.