19 May 2007

Turning against their very own

ANOTHER prominent election-related sidelight that has yet to grab national attention concerns the plight of 15 members of Naga's Finest -- the local police force -- who suffered injustice at the hands of their very own superiors, Camarines Sur Provincial Director Romeo Mapalo and OIC Regional Director Agnanayon Tira.

These two Bicol Mail exclusives -- one on the deployment of the RMG personnel at City Hall, and the other on the abrupt pullout of the 15 local policemen from their post last May 12 -- confirm Mayor Robredo's accusation that the PNP has allowed itself to be used by powerful politicians to serve their ends.

It will be recalled that Camarines Sur Gov. LRay Villafuerte has long been calling for Mapalo's relief for his failure to contain jueteng, whose continued operation he attributed to his own kins. Tira was also installed on Rep. Luis Villafuerte's behest, finally replacing former RD Padilla who complained of being caught in the father-and-son conflict.

The latter story details how the policemen were suddenly taken to Legazpi on allegations they are involved in the illicit drug trade. All of them however turned up negative after being subjected to a drug test. But the damage on their reputations has been done; one even suffered hypertension because of the development, and had to be confined at the Naga City Primary Hospital.

This quote highlights Mapalo and Tira's
highhandedness towards their subordinate officers:

Afuera pa kaini si personal na mga kagamitan kabali na an cellphone kan mga polis pig-confiscar ngani sanang dai maka-apod tulos sa saindang familia o abogado nganing maghagad nin tabang. (Additionally, their personal effects, including cellphones of the policemen, were confiscated to prevent them from immediately calling their family or lawyers for help.)
The story also mentions that Mayor Robredo has filed a habeas corpus case on behalf of the local policemen, in view of their continued detention at the PNP Regional Office in Legazpi City.

With the negative drug test results, local radio reports also cited Mapalo's effort to wiggle out of the situation, this time involving the illegal pullout of a detainee at the Naga District Jail in barangay Del Rosario, without the benefit of a court order. Said detainee has now executed an affidavit implicating some of the involved police personnel.

With this development, I am not be surprised why public belief in police neutrality is lower in the rest of Luzon (53%) than the national average (59%). In the aftermath of this sickening development, I am pretty it will even be much lower in this part of the Bicol region.