Calbayog police relieved due to slays
TACLOBAN CITY—The entire police force in Calbayog City, Samar province, has been relieved for its failure to stop the series of killings in the city.
At least 81 policemen were transferred to the Samar Police Provincial Office based in Catbalogan City, said Chief Supt. Asher Dolina, chief of the Police Regional Office-Eastern Visayas (PRO-8). They were replaced by policemen from the provincial office.
Supt. Marten Ordonia, who was assigned as Calbayog police chief two months ago, was replaced by Supt. Salvador Tagle, deputy logistics chief of the police regional office. He was sent to the Provincial Safety Battalion in Catarman town, Northern Samar province.
In a phone interview, Dolina told the Inquirer in a phone interview that the relief of the police force stemmed from their failure to solve and stop the killings in the city. At least 15 people, mostly village officials, had been killed from January to May, city police records showed.
Calbayog has been always identified as a hot spot during the election campaign period due to poll-related violence.
Its former mayor, Reynaldo Uy, was gunned down in Hinabangan town, also in Samar, before the May 2013 elections. His murder remained unsolved.
The most recent were the violent deaths of Rio Merencillo Lebario, 45, Dagum village chief, and his councilman (“kagawad”) Dionesio Tarrago Lungsod, 55. They were shot by two men in their 20s while attending a meeting inside the barangay hall about 10 a.m. of May 20.
Three days earlier, an unidentified man shot and killed Edgar Dormiendo Belleza, 35, village chief of Carayman.
Belleza belonged to the camp of Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan, while Lebario and Lungsod were allies of Tan’s political rival, Calbayog Mayor Ronald Aquino.
During his visit to Calbayog, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas expressed alarm over the series of killings and told the police to address the situation.
Dolina said that while some of the victims were barangay officials, the motives were not necessarily related to politics. He said that based on police investigation, personal grudge could be the likely motive.
In some of the killings, criminal cases had been filed and warrants of arrest had been served to suspects, he said.
In the meantime, measures have been implemented to prevent crimes from happening. These include setting up checkpoints in strategic areas, patrol operations especially in remote barangays, and the implementation of a “no plate number, no travel policy” after the police noticed that the killers used vehicles without plate numbers.
Dolina ordered Tagle, the new Calbayog chief, to put a stop to the killings. “Otherwise, he might be replaced too,” he said.
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