Loot: 2nd Cebu mayor to lose supervision over local police

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Daanbantayan Mayor and former police general Vicente Loot is the second mayor in Cebu after Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to lose supervision over his town's police force.

Despite the National Police Commission (Napolcom) revoking his supervisory powers over the local police, Loot said he would continue providing a reward of P50,000 for cops who would "neutralize" pushers and P10,000 for police who arrest them in his town.

"I cannot turn a blind eye to their needs. I cannot allow them to suffer because it will ultimately boomerang to my constituents," Loot told Rappler. 

His response to losing his supervision over the local police was different from Osmeña's. The Cebu City mayor stopped giving rewards and allowances to police officers after Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa denied his request not to transfer Cebu City Police Director Benjamin Santos Jr and Region 7 Director Patrocinio Comendador.

Loot received the document from Napolcom Region 7 Director Homer Mariano Cabaral.

Loot told Rappler on Friday, August 12, that he would abide by the order. "The deputation for me is just another decoration that has no use in my administration," the first-time mayor said.

He added: "I fully understand the predicament of policemen assigned in a municipal police station. Hence, I haven't exercised the privilege in choosing my chief of police. Instead, I submitted to the wisdom of the regional director of PRO 7 [Noli Taliño]."

Loot said he "doesn't meddle" in police affairs anyway. "They can work better if left alone. My job is to support them."

Loot had been with the PNP for 37 years until he retired in 2015. He last held the position of training director.

He ran for mayor of Daanbantayan town in northern Cebu under the United Nationalist (UNA) ticket and won against incumbent Augusto Corro by 7 votes.

Loot reported to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on July 8 after he appeared on the so-called Duterte drug list. No charges have been filed against Loot.

Napolcom Region 7 spokesperson Risty Sibay told GMA Cebu that the order to revoke supervision over the local police was related to the investigation into Loot's alleged links to the drug trade.

Daanbantayan's municipal police will remain under the supervision of Central Visayas Regional Director Noli Taliño.

Taliño relieved 75 precinct chiefs in July for not arresting at least half of the suspects in their towns' drug watch list. On his first day in office, he said his priority would be to "cleanse" PNP ranks in his region.

On Sunday, August 7, 6 police officers and 2 local officials from Cebu were included on a list of alleged "drug protectors." (READ: Central Visayas top cop on Duterte drug list: 'May kasunod pa'

Taliño told reporters that while intelligence about local personalities on the list did not come from his office, he would be submitting a list of more officers suspected of being in the drug trade to dela Rosa. – Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.