PNP-council war seethes
BACOLOD CITY—The war between town officials and police in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, is escalating.
Top police officials of the province said 31 more policemen of Escalante would be recommended for transfer to pave the way for an investigation of cases of summary executions that remain unsolved and allegedly involving town officials that are being protected by the town’s policemen.
The regional police earlier pulled out 22 policemen from the town, a move which angered the mayor, Melecio Yap, who protested the relief of the policemen without his prior knowledge. Three of the relieved policemen were the mayor’s bodyguards.
Their replacements have since reported to the town.
Now, the entire police force of the town is being removed and replaced with new faces.
Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, said the move was in response to numerous complaints for the relief of policemen involved in crimes, including extrajudicial killings, in the town.
Guisihan said the transfer of the policemen would encourage witnesses and complainants to come out in the open. He said complainants have a month to surface and file charges.
If no charges were filed after a month, Guisihan said he would recommend the return of the total 53 policemen to Escalante.
Chief Supt. Cipriano Querol, Western Visayas police director, had approved the transfer of the Escalante police force elsewhere pending the filing of formal complaints against any of the policemen.
The city council had recommended withdrawal of all support from the town police force, including the use of a city-owned building, as its headquarters.
The council also passed three resolutions that brought town officials on a head-on collision course with top regional and provincial police officials. One resolution recommended charges against Querol and Guisihan.
The council also asked Yap to evict the police station from a building owned by the city government and, instead, use it to house the office of the vice mayor and councilors.
The Escalante police had been perceived as allied with Yap, who lost official supervision over policemen due to his alleged links with communist rebels.
The accusations against Yap were based on confidential reports from Querol and a former regional director of the National Police Commission, Honey Paredes.
Majority of the killings in Escalante since 2007 were owned up by the New People’s Army. Yap was expected to adopt the council resolutions.
“To prevent policemen from being branded as aligned with me it is better to let them operate on their own,” the mayor said.
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