PNP chief off to Zambo Peninsula amid rise in crime

David Yu Santos
In April alone, a number of ranking police officials have been sacked due to high-profile crimes in different parts of the region

Photo of Director General Nicanor Bartolome, PNP Chief (Photo from PNP)

MANILA, Philippines – Amid a spate of crimes in the Zamboanga Peninsula that has caused the relief of at least 4 police officials, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome is set to fly to Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday, April 11, to assess the peace and order situation there and check on his personnel.

On Tuesday, April 10, Bartolome ordered the relief of Zamboanga del Sur provincial police director Senior Supt Jose Bayani Gucela after suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided a police station and some government offices in Tigbao town.

Aside from Gucela, Tigbao police chief Senior Inspector Heines Legazpi and his 21-member police force were also removed from their posts.

Chief Supt Napoleon Estilles, Police Regional Office 9 (PRO 9) director, said Gucela and Legazpi will be transferred to other assignments, while members of the Tigbao police station will undergo a rigid re-training.

The NPA rebels, clad in Army camouflage, attacked the Tigbao municipal police station at around 8pm Monday, April 9, and got several firearms and ammunition.

The guerrillas also took as hostage a policeman, identified as PO2 Faizal Juhali, before withdrawing from the town.

Wiped out

Since the start of April, the National Police headquarters has relieved several policemen in the region for their failure to prevent crime in their areas.

Last April 3, the entire police unit in Salug, Zamboanga del Norte, composed of 25 members led by its chief Senior Insp Roselily Baguio, was also sacked after the town’s mayor, Jeffrey Lim, was abducted by armed men while waiting for his family in a bus terminal.

In Zamboanga City, acting police chief Senior Supt Edwin de Ocampo was relieved last April 2 over the unabated killings in the city, which included the gunning down of a university president.

The following senior officers from Region 9, or Western Mindanao, have been assigned to replace the sacked officials:

  • Deputy regional police director Chief Superintendent Mario Yanga (Zamboanga City Police Office)

  • Deputy regional police director Senior Superintendent Ramon Ochotorena (Zamboanga del Norte Police Office)

  • Regional logistics chief Senior Superintendent Marzan Premne (Zamboanga del Sur Police Office)

The officials will be in their posts in a temporary capacity for no more than 12 months.

Fresh grads

Members of the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) in Region 9 and at least 70 new police graduates will be tasked to replace the relieved members of the Tigbao and Salug units, which are among the smallest police stations in the region.

Insisting that the regional police hierarchy has not been remiss in its duties, Estilles said he will meet with police officials in the region to discuss strategies on how to further improve law enforcement.

“We are looking into the need to strengthen our ground supervision,” Estilles said. “Ina-assess pa namin kung saan kami nagkulang.” (We are still assessing our possible shortcomings.)

“There have been more than enough memos, reminders and personal visits to the police units under PRO-9 to ensure that their men in the field remain on their toes,” Estilles added. – Rappler.com