Cebu City mayor raises concern over police checkpoint near his home
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has raised concerns over a police checkpoint near his residence.
He said the police were also knocking on the doors of Barangay captains belonging to his party, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, and were entering his supporters’ homes “looking for illegal firearms” with no search warrant.
Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO-7), however, slammed the mayor for making it appear that the police were being used as goons by rival political camps to harass him.
“I don’t think our policemen were being used by Osmeña’s rivals. Before, he used to have the support of the police. This time, we are neutral,” Sinas said in a press briefing Monday.
In a Facebook post, the mayor expressed concern over the conduct of a checkpoint outside his house in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday last week.
“I live on a side street in Guadalupe, but instead of securing the bus terminals, churches, or other high traffic areas, PRO-7 has decided to send 10 police(men) to make a checkpoint right outside my house. (This is the) only mobile ‘checkpoint’ in Cebu and one where there is more police than traffic,” he said in a post on his Facebook page.
“They actually tailed me last Thursday during Visita Iglesia. Maybe they just want to be sure I really went to seven churches,” he added.
Osmeña added that some people staying at a chapel across his gate told him that the police took photographs of people entering and exiting his house.
“When I left earlier, they left. Now that I’m home, they’re back. Earlier today (Thursday), my wife had to ask permission to enter our own house,” he said.
Osmeña added that the police also knocked on the doors of BOPK barangay captains and conducted warrantless searches in Barangay Lahug “looking for illegal firearms.”
Barangay Lahug is the bailiwick of Councilor Mary Ann Delos Santos, Osmeña’s running mate in the May 2019 elections.
Osmeña said high-ranking police officials in Cebu have to explain the checkpoint near his home.
“These men are just following orders. It is their commanders who are to blame,” he said.
However, Sinas maintained that the checkpoint conducted outside Osmeña’s house was properly coordinated with the Commission on Election (Comelec).
Checkpoints, he added, have been set up throughout Cebu City and that the locations were randomly picked.
“It was properly coordinated with Comelec. It so happens that the checkpoint was near his house. Are they excused (from checkpoints)?” Sinas asked.
Police Col. Royina Garma, chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), could not be reached for a statement on Monday. /ee
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