Mayor wants police station personnel sacked over April Fool's prank

Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr sought the relief of all personnel of Police Station 5 due to a prank video posted on social media involving two uniformed policemen.

In a memorandum dated Saturday, April 3, Lazatin told Colonel Rommel Batangan, police director of Angeles City, that the video posted on the Facebook page of SY Music Entertainment on Friday, April 2, showed the cops arresting an individual.

The policemen were heard identifying themselves as from Police Station 5.

The video, Lazatin said, turned out to be an April Fool’s Day prank where an Angeles City Police Office mobile patrol vehicle was also used.

In the mayor's memorandum, he told the city police director to:

  1. "Relieve all personnel from PNP Station 5, effective immediately"
  2. "Investigate all PNP personnel involved in the alleged ‘pranking’ incident and file appropriate charges against them, including but not limited to, the breach of health protocols."

Lazatin told Batangan that the entire country “has been besieged by a pandemic of unprecedented magnitude” since March 2020.

“For more than an entire year, members of our community have tirelessly complied with community quarantine measures, ‘stay-at-home’ orders, and strict public health protocols, all in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus. It is simply unconscionable that personnel from the Angeles City Police Office (ACPO) would participate in such nonsensical activities,” he said.

“These actions are disadvantageous to the best interest of the government as it not only makes use of government property for a senseless ‘prank’ but also undermines the efforts of the entire local government unit to implement public health protocols. This is not the kind of conduct that the public deserves from their police officers,” the mayor added.

Rappler tried to contact Batangan or city police public information officer Lieutenant Colonel Rolando Doroja for comment on Lazatin’s order, but personnel of the ACPO’s Tactical Operations Center said the two police officials were unavailable and that their mobile numbers “were busy.”

A source said that, as of filing this story on Sunday afternoon, April 4, only the two policemen involved in the prank video had been relieved from their posts. Other personnel of Police Station 5 who had nothing to do with the issue continued to perform their duties.

Can a city mayor order the relief of policemen assigned within his jurisdiction?

Under Section 455 of Republic Act (RA) No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, a city mayor acts as a deputized representative of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) and may “exercise general and operational control and supervision over the local police forces in the city, in accordance with RA 6975 (DILG Code of 1990).” But under Section 14 of RA 6975, only Napolcom has administrative control over the police.

Lazatin’s memorandum to Batangan did not request, but directed the latter, to relieve all personnel of Police Station 5.

In a statement on Sunday, Lazatin said he ordered the city government’s Business Permit and Licensing Division “to close down SY Music Entertainment and suspend their permit to operate” for community quarantine violations that included not wearing of face masks, non-observance of social distancing protocols, and mass gathering. – Rappler.com