Gemma Cruz Vinluan takes over as new Cebu City police chief

Ryan Macasero
Gemma Cruz Vinluan takes over as new Cebu City police chief
(UPDATED) New Cebu City Police Office Director Gemma Vinluan and retired director Royina Garma are classmates at the Philippine National Police Academy's Kapanalig class of 1997

CEBU CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) — Colonel Gemma Cruz Vinluan, the new director of the Cebu City Police Office, officially assumed office on Thursday morning, July 11.

She is the second woman to serve as the city’s police director after former police colonel Royina Garma, who opted for early retirement following her appointment as general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). 

“Of the 10 point agenda, [my priority] would be to ensure better police visibility and better response time,” Vinluan said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

She added that in addition to continuing anti-drug operations, they would also prioritize setting up a tourist police unit, a project that was started by Garma. 

Vinluan most recently served as the head of the Women and Children Protection Desk at police headquarters in Camp Crame.

Garma took over the leadership of the PCSO, 10 years prior to the PNP’s standard retirement age. She served only a total of  24 years in the police service. She was Vinluan’s classmate at the Philippine National Police Academy’s Kapanalig class of 1997. 

Garma’s one-year stint as the city’s top cop is highlighted by her public fued with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña. The former city chief executive blamed Garma and Regional Police Director Debold Sinas for the rise in the number of riding-in-tandem killings in the city. (READ: Killings in Cebu rise as mayor, cops feud)

Present at the turnover ceremony was Vice Mayor Michael Rama while new Mayor Edgardo Labella was in Manila to attend a training session for local officials at the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Vinluan was the choice of Labella. The other candidates rumored to have been considered for the post were Lieutenant Colonel Lito Patay, current head of the Central Visayas’ Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG); and Lieutenant Colonel Marvin Marcos, who was chief of Albuera, Leyte, when its former Mayor Rolando Espinosa — tagged a drug lord by President Rodrigo Duterte — was killed in his jail cell.

According to a study by Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle University, Cebu City and province saw the 3rd highest number of drug killings in the Philippines after Metro Manila and Bulacan between 2016 and 2018.

Vinluan said that she would continue anti-drug operations in Cebu, but would ask officers only to use enough force to apprehend suspects and not shoot to kill immediately. 2018 had seen a rise in the number of unsoled killings in Cebu City. Osmeña had previously accused Garma and Brigadier General Debold Sinas, the regional police chief, of being behind the killings.

While the selection of a city’s police chief is usually a mayor’s choice, Osmeña was not given his pick of police chief during his term. — Rappler.com

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Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at ryan.macasero@rappler.com