Davao del Norte city withdraws police support
TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines — Mayor Rey Uy has ordered the recall of four patrol cars issued by the city government to the Tagum City Police Station and vowed to withdraw all of the local government’s support to the local police force.
The mayor made the move as he felt disrespected when the Davao Police Regional Office (PRO) replaced on Thursday the city’s acting police chief, Lt. Col. Edgardo Bernardo, without consulting or coordinating with him.
Bernardo, who was replaced by Lt. Col. Jeffrey Latayada, was relieved in the wake of last week’s separate killings of two girls in the city. His relief was reportedly based on the one-strike policy of the Philippine National Police, in which police chiefs were removed from their posts when two or more killings happened in their area of responsibility.
Uy said he didn’t think the city’s withdrawal of support from the local police would hamper the police’s capability.
“The police can stand on their own. They need fuel? That’s already allocated in their own budget,” the mayor said.
Appeal not heeded
Uy said he only heard about the plan to replace Bernardo on Wednesday but was not formally informed about it by the Davao PRO.
“Why replace him when he is doing good?” Uy asked during an interview by a local news outlet on Sunday.
Uy noted that Bernardo, who assumed his post in the city only on March 3, had not only led several big-time buy-bust operations in this capital city of Davao del Norte but had also worked closely with village officials to address their safety needs.
“Is that what you call a weakling?” the mayor asked.
Uy said he tried but failed to stop the relief of Bernardo through Councilor Meliton Lemos, a former police officer. But although Lemos succeeded in asking Davao del Norte provincial police chief Col. Antonio Alberio Jr. not to move Bernardo, he was not as successful with Brig. Gen. Alden Delvo, the regional police director, according to Uy.
Delvo reportedly apologized to Lemos and told him the relief order had already been sent.
“But the order can be recalled. There have been many instances in which orders of turnover [of command] were recalled,” Uy said.
Since it appeared that the higher police command “disrespected and bypassed” his office, Uy said he would cut the city government’s support to the local police.
Aside from the vehicles, which were already moved to the city motor pool over the weekend, the city government had also given fuel and rice subsidies to the city police. It also assigned city-paid personnel as additional staff of the local police, the mayor said.
Uy said his plan to give motorcycles to the city police has been put on hold.
The mayor said he would reinstate the police support if Bernardo would also be reinstated.
The Davao PRO has yet to issue a statement on the mayor’s move.
Latayada, the former operation chief of the Davao del Sur police provincial office, on Sunday said they would continue to perform their mandate to serve the people of Tagum despite the mayor’s decision, adding that assistance from the city government and other stakeholders had been a privilege that could be withdrawn by those who extended it.
“I know that Mayor Uy’s heart is for the people,” Latayada told the Inquirer by phone.