MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – No more power over their local police.
Seven governors and 132 mayors from the island of Mindanao have been stripped of their powers over local police by the National Police Commission (Napolcom).
The local executives allegedly engaged in acts that would harm national security or get in the way of the government’s peace and order campaign, provided material support to criminal elements, had too many frequent unauthorized absences, or abused their authority.
This means the governors and mayors will no longer have administrative control over police units in their area.
In a press statement on Tuesday, July 4, the commission said that through Resolution Numbers 2017-334 and 2017-335, they stripped the following local chief executives of their deputation:
The commission, however, did not release a list detailing the identities of the mayors nor an explanation on why each local chief executive was sanctioned.
Napolcom also made a couple of errors in its list.
It named Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr as governor. Bedjoria Soraya Adiong is the incumbent Lanao del Sur governor.
It also listed Nurbert Sahali, and not Rashidin Matba, as Tawi-Tawi governor. Sahali lost his reelection bid in the 2016 elections.
Implementation of martial law?
In a statement, Napolcom Vice Chairman and Executive Officer Rogelio Casurao said the deputation of the local executives was suspended “for their failure to impose measures to suppress terroristic acts and prevent lawless violence in their territories which is inimical to national security and poses serious threat to the lives and security of their constituents.”
The commission also said, “There were also reports of local chief executives in Mindanao being involved in the illegal drug trade which is tantamount to providing support, in one way or another, to the Maute terrorist group or other criminal elements in their jurisdiction, an act which negates the effectiveness of the peace and order campaign in the country.”
The resolution was issued June 8, but was released only on July 4, the same day the Supreme Court upheld President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao due to the terrorists' siege of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. (READ: AFP, PNP chiefs 'inclined to recommend' martial law extension)
Napolcom made the decision barely two weeks after local terror groups attempted to take over Marawi City on May 23. The fighting continues as government forces try to flush out members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups from the city. (READ: Gov't retakes Maute stronghold, Dansalan College, in Marawi)
Martial law was declared over the entire Mindanao island hours after the clashes began. In placing Mindanao under martial rule, President Duterte cited the threat of ISIS, to which both local groups have pledged allegiance.
“Under martial law, police power is exercised by the executive and in order to help streamline the efforts of the President in the implementation of martial law in Mindanao, and premised on the existence of the aforementioned grounds, the Napolcom ordered the removal and revocation of the duties, obligations, powers and prerogatives vested upon the seven (7) Governors and 132 Mayors in Mindanao,” said Casurao.
See the full list here:
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, administrator of martial law, distanced himself from the Napolcom order. He said it did not come from him.
"No. I think that has to do more on the fight against illegal drugs," Lorenzana told Rappler in a text message.
The power of Napolcom to remove the police power of local executives emanates from Republic Act 8551.
Under R.A. 8551 or the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act, local chief executives – mayors and governors – are "automatically deputized" as representatives of the Napolcom. They may "inspect police forces and units, conduct audit, and exercise other functions as may be duly authorized by the Commission."
The deputation can be revoked if a local official is found to have abused his or her authority, provided support to criminals, or engaged in acts that hamper national security or negate peace and order campaigns. – with a report from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com
*The incumbent Lanao del Sur governor is Bedjoria Soraya Adiong, while the incumbent Tawi-Tawi governor is Rashidin Matba.