Outgoing Cebu City top cop Garma takes one last jab at Osmeña

Ryan Macasero
Stripping her office bare isn't one of the things police colonel Royina Garma will do before stepping down as Cebu City police director

LEAVING OFFICE. Police colonel Royina Garma says she's not taking anything from the Cebu City Police Office before stepping down. Photo by Ryan Macasero/Rappler

Ex-Cebu City police chief Royina Garma did not leave her office on Thursday, July 11, without taking one last jab at ex-Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, whom she had clashed publicly with on several occasions during her one-year term.

When reporters asked her what the last thing she would do would be before she leaves office, Garma jokingly said, “Well, I’m leaving everything there.”

This was an apparent jab at Osmeña who stripped his office bare, including taking out the tiles, before leaving office in June. (READ: LOOK: Osmeña strips mayor’s office bare before stepping down)

STRIPPED BARE. Ex-Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña strips office bare before stepping down. Photo by Marthy John Lubiano/Rappler

“Everything that was given to me, it was not given to me as a private person, but as the city director,” the incoming Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager said.

The two have gotten into several verbal tussles over Garma’s handling of police matters in Cebu City. Osmeña blamed her directly and Brigadier General Debold Sinas, the Police Regional Director of Central Visayas, for the rise in the number of unsolved killings in the city.

When it was announced in June that Garma would be appointed PCSO general manager, she blamed Osmeña for slowing down “change” in the city. “[This] one year [was] very challenging,” Garma said. “It should have been better and it should have been faster change if there was cooperation [with] the LGU.” (READ: Cebu City police chief Garma appointed PCSO general manager)

Osmeña began his term in 2016 making headlines with his P50,000-rewards for police who kill or apprehend high-level drug suspects, but later on ended his incentive program when he was unable to choose his police chief, a prerogative usually given to mayors under the local government code of the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at Osmeña last August 2018, for not cooperating with the administration in the way it was conducting the drug war in his city. For “acting like he owns Cebu,” Duterte threatened to slap Osmeña. (READ: Duterte warns Tommy Osmeña: Don’t mess with me

But now that Edgardo Labella – whose candidacy was backed by Duterte – is mayor, the police department can expect better relations with the local government of Cebu City.

Labella had already promised allowances and legal aid for local police officers who need it. He also said he would help improve the facilities of local police stations.

Taking the helm of the police force tasked to secure a city of 1 million people is Garma’s classmate Gemma Cruz Vinluan. While the drug war will continue under her watch, the city’s second female police chief promised during her turnover ceremony that she would not order her officers to “shoot to kill” suspects. (READ: ‘No kill order,’ says new Cebu City top cop Gemma Vinluan)

So while police and LGU relations will likely improve, will Cebu City see less blood in the campaign against drugs? Not necessarily.

“I can’t promise that,” Vinluan told reporters during her turnover ceremony. But if they surrender peacefully and face court cases, she said that suspects “would not be harmed.” – 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.