Explain presence at LP meeting, top cops told
The Philippine National Police will ask four of its generals to shed light on their presence in a reportedly “confidential meeting” with campaign officials of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas at a hotel at Araneta Center in Quezon City.
“We will officially communicate with the officers concerned to have them answer the issues and we will give you updates once we receive their reply,” PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor told reporters.
Mayor issued the statement after four senior police officials were spotted on Saturday at the Novotel Manila by reporters, who happened to be attending a workshop in the hotel at the time. The hotel is located at the Araneta Center owned by Roxas’ family.
The “confidential” meeting was supposedly held at the Cezanne function room on the third floor of the hotel.
The four police generals were Director Generoso Cerbo Jr., chief of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence, and Chief Superintendents Rainier Idio, Bernardo Diaz and Ronald Santos.
Idio is the regional director of the Cagayan Valley police, while Diaz heads the Western Visayas regional police office. Santos is deputy regional director for administration for Calabarzon.
All four are members of Philippine Military Academy “Maharlika” Class of 1984, which had adopted Roxas as an honorary member.
Journalists attending a workshop at the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility spotted the generals, who were in civilian clothes, in the company of retired PNP Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr., former PNP deputy chief for administration, at the Gourmet Bar of the hotel.
Also spotted in the lobby was Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, the recently appointed inspector general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Sought for comment, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said he had yet to talk to Lactao to get his side of the story.
The PNP and the AFP had ordered their personnel to stay away from campaign activities so as not to be suspected of engaging in partisan politics.
Interviewed later, Cerbo confirmed that he had met with Garbo on Saturday at the Novotel Manila, but maintained that the meeting was “personal and not political.”
“That was a personal breakfast meeting with Garbo in the lobby of Novotel Manila. No staff of Roxas was with us. There was no political agenda during that meeting,” Cerbo said.
After meeting with Cerbo and the other PNP officials, Garbo was later seen coming out of the Cezanne function room where a confidential Liberal Party meeting was being held.
A member of Roxas’ staff identified as Thea Reyes was seen inside the room from which Garbo exited and which another retired military official, former Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, was seen entering.
Waiters were reportedly not allowed to enter the room to serve refreshments. These were passed through a woman at the door.
Lactao, for his part, said, “I find it disturbing that my presence at Novotel the other day was interpreted in a malicious manner. I was there to meet a classmate, another officer in the service, who sought my advice on career matters. The location was public and was convenient to both of us. Hence, our presence there. I was not aware of any political activity and, more so, did not take part in it.”
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