The Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed to continue working hand-in-hand with the city mayors around the country to promote and preserve peace and order in the community.
“Our police are here for your protection and our citizens,” PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said.
Eleazar, a former director of the National Capital Region (NCR) Police Office, made this statement during the first-ever online dialog between the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) and the PNP Wednesday, March 24.
Initiated by LCP national president, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, the dialog was sought as a follow up to their call for justice for slain Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and to further enhance the collaboration between the police and the local chief executives, a press release from the Bacolod Public Information Office said.
“We demand swift and immediate justice for the orchestrated ambush of Mayor Aquino and we appeal to police authorities for a thorough investigation of his killing. We count on them to bring to justice the perpetrators of this dastardly act and seek all witnesses that may provide clarity on the unfortunate incident,” an LCP statement issued on the same day Aquino was killed on March 8 said.
This was followed by Leonardia’s request for a dialog with the PNP.
“The LCP president requested for an online dialog regarding the incident to discuss the progress of the investigation as well as to discuss measures to ensure that this will not happen again,” Eleazar said.
The March 8 shooting incident claimed the life not only of Aquino but also of two police officers from PNP-Samar, a policeman assigned to secure the mayor, the mayor’s driver, and a civilian. The mayor’s aide and another police officer were also wounded.
Police reports showed that Aquino, with his aides, was going to a resort to attend his son’s birthday party, when the shooting happened. Seven policemen were involved.
Several matters were presented and discussed during the online dialog, including the facts of the case, the evidence collected, the summary of the statements of the personnel involved, extended efforts, and the initial findings. The dialog was, incidentally, conducted on the same day of Aquino’s funeral.
Leonardia again appealed for the speedy and thorough resolution of the case, “We are making this official appeal of the League of Cities of the Philippines to express our support to his widow and the family.”
Addressing Eleazar, Leonardia added: “We want to appeal for your support and cooperation on this. Rest assured, that the highlights of our meeting today – whatever messages you would like to deliver – will resonate down to every city mayor so that there will be awareness that indeed the PNP is our partner.”
Eleazar assured the LCP that the PNP is committed to resolving the case at the soonest time possible.
“We know our roles. We recognize your support to our units. This unfortunate incident should not affect our relationship and should not affect your trust [on us]. In fact, our 25th chief of PNP – General Debold Sinas – is focusing on this investigation. We are also thankful to the Department of Justice for giving instruction to the NBI to investigate,” Eleazar said.
He added: “In behalf of our chief, thank you LGUs. We will disseminate and give proper guidance to our commanders on the ground, particularly our chiefs of police and our city directors. Our police are here for your protection and our citizens.”
Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, who attended the burial of Aquino but still managed to join the online conference, said that he will look into the case report once the NBI completes its investigation. He added that he hopes for a report that addresses all the angles of the case.
Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo, meanwhile, discussed his concerns on the general guidelines on the replacement of the chief of police and the police-to-population ratio in cities.
Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cythia Guiani-Sayadi and Iligan City Mayor Madel Alfelor presented their security concerns as they have been getting death threats in their respective cities.
Referring to the attendance of Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong, Leonardia said: “We are fortunate in the League of Cities of the Philippines that we have with us Mayor Benjie because we know his credentials. When we got organized, we named him as the Anticrime and Illegal drugs Focal Mayor, given that he was once the country chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.”
The LCP president continued: “He (Magalong) has been acting according to our expectations. We feel confident because he is with us in this dialog. There are matters here that could be beyond our comprehension as laymen and his presence assures us that we can look into more details of the investigation and better understand the situation.”
“This meeting is remarkably significant because in the end, this is supposed to be a partnership of the PNP and the local government units on peace and order and the welfare of our people. We look forward to a closer, harmonious, and productive relationship between our cities and the PNP,” Leonardia said.*