More police bodyguards eyed for local chief executives | Inquirer News

More police bodyguards eyed for local chief executives

Police officers saluting in formation. STORY: More police bodyguards eyed for local chief executives

The Philippine National Police force. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA)

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police may raise the number of police security escorts assigned to local chief executives facing serious threats, in response to the recent spate of deadly attacks on mayors and governors, a senior police official told lawmakers on Wednesday.

At a hearing of the House committee on public order and safety committee, the legislators expressed concern about the killing of local politicians in recent weeks, the latest claiming the lives of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and eight others on March 4.


Brig. Gen. Matthew Baccay of the PNP Directorate for Personnel Records and Management noted that at present a local government official with “validated threats” on his or her life was entitled to only two police officers as security detail.


“But the PNP is in the process of providing a security package, especially for those with threat assessments that are validated,” he said during the hearing.

Baccay said a number of local officials had made requests for more police escorts in the aftermath of Degamo’s murder.

He said the PNP was inclined to comply, provided that the officials involved had documented threats on their lives.

Up to 6 each

“Under extreme and emergency cases, we may add up to six” escorts for one person, he added.

Under a 2019 PNP memorandum circular, local chief executives are entitled to a maximum of two security officers from the Police Security and Protection Group. In “highly exceptional cases,” they may request a maximum of six additional escorts, either from the PNP or from private security agencies.

“For now the move of the PNP is to provide additional security personnel with those with validated threat assessment,” Baccay said.


At the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame on Tuesday, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos and PNP officials met with officials of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines led by its president, Quirino Gov. Dakila Carlo Cua, and its member leagues.

The officials told Abalos and the PNP they were alarmed by the successive attacks on their colleagues, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo told a press conference on Wednesday.

“Some of them expressed their intention to avail [themselves of] additional security, particularly those who are perceived to be receiving some concern with respect to their personal security,” Fajardo said.

Abalos assured the local leaders that their request would be heeded — but subject to the PNP’s threat assessment.

Bloody 2 weeks

Degamo was the fourth local government executive to fall victim to an armed assault in just two weeks.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Adiong Jr. and Mayor Ohto Montawal of Datu Montawal town, Maguindanao del Sur province, each survived an attack on Feb. 17 and Feb. 22, respectively, while Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda died in an ambush on Feb. 19.

On Saturday morning, Degamo and eight others were gunned down by men in Army uniform and bulletproof vest inside his family’s compound in Pamplona town. He died a few hours later at a private hospital in Dumaguete City.

Authorities arrested four suspects — Joric Labrador, Joven Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, and Osmundo Rivero — who were all former military men dishonorably discharged from the service, while a fifth unidentified man was killed in an alleged shootout with pursuing law enforcers.

How about congressmen?

Last month, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. ordered all regional directors to check if the government officials in their areas had enough security detail.

But at the House hearing, some lawmakers said they were worried for their safety even without documented death threats.

“How about us congressmen? How about those whose threats have not been validated? I believe anyone who enters politics, whether you are a councilor, governor or congressman, once you enter the field of politics, the threat is there,” said Misamis Occidental Rep. Sancho Fernando Oaminal.

Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez, the committee chair, agreed that the situation was “already alarming and dangerous.”

Baccay assured the legislators that the PNP would launch “aggressive operations” against gun-for-hire mercenaries.

On President Marcos’ orders, he said, the intelligence community “was tasked to update the list of guns-for-hire, as well as illegal firearms in the possession of these guns-for-hire.”

This was on top of the designation of election hot spots and checkpoints in preparation for the barangay and youth elections in October, Baccay said.

For mass sacking

Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop said the police provincial director of Negros Oriental and the police regional director for Central Visayas, including intelligence personnel, should be sacked over the incident.

“They should be relieved because they knew the situation and yet they did not do anything,” he said.

As of Wednesday, the entire police force in two localities—Bayawan City and neighboring Santa Catalina town—in the province have been relieved of their duties for supposed negligence in Degamo’s case.

More heads will roll in the coming days, according to the PNP.

Abalos on Tuesday ordered the replacement of all police personnel in all local government units in the province. The PNP said this would be done “by phase.”

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Fajardo said all 75 members of Bayawan police station and 56 members of Santa Catalina police station, including their chiefs, had been relieved and replaced with officers from different units of the Central Visayas police.


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TAGS: attacks on politicians, Philippine National Police, Roel Degamo

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