STRIPPING governors and mayors of police powers may not be really new in the country which has already witnessed hundreds of local chief executives being stripped of their police functions in the past due to their failure to control crime and terrorism in their areas.
However, it is only under the present Duterte administration where a total of 189 governors and mayors have lost their supervisory powers over the Philippine National Police for various reasons.
The Department of Interior and Local Government headed by Secretary Eduardo M. Año said 181 mayors and eight governors have been divested of their police supervisory functions since the start of the Duterte presidency in July 2016.
According to DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya, these local government executives were stripped of their power over the police for their alleged illegal drug trade links, failure to stop terrorist acts and having provided support to rebel groups.
It is an open secret that some local officials in rebel-prone areas have succumbed to the demands of terrorists to ensure their electoral victories in the past including payment of so-called ‘Permit-to-Campaign Fees’ and ‘Permit-to-Win Fees’ and even financial and logistical support to the underground movement.
Malaya said the DILG is continuing its coordination with the National Police Commission in a bid to remove the police-deputation powers of politicians with alleged ties to the illegal-drugs trade and who came out victorious in the May 13, 2019 mid-term elections.
Sec. Año noted that while he respects the will of the people to elect their leaders, those with known illegal-narcotics trade will have to face administrative charges even after winning the elections.
The DILG’s move however is not entirely new.
Weeks after the infamous November 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre which left 58 people including 34 members of the press dead, then Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his mayors were stripped of their police powers after being accused of maintaining private armed groups and failing to suppress crime in the province.
Two years ago, at least seven governors and 132 mayors in Mindanao were also stripped of their Napolcom deputation.
The Napolcom in July 2017 said the officials were stripped of their power over local police force for “engaging in acts inimical to national security or which negate the effectiveness of the peace and order campaign of the government; and providing material support to criminal elements.”
The Napolcom order came as clashes between government troops and Islamic State-linked terror groups continued in Marawi City nearly two months since the conflict began. Some local officials were accused of abetting terrorists and involvement in the narcotics trade, with illegal drugs amounting to millions of pesos recovered from the houses of former and current city officials.
Those stripped then of their Napolcom deputation were Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and 28 of his mayors; Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Jr. and his 37 mayors; Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda D.C. Quibranza-Dimaporo and her 22 mayors; Sultan Kudarat Gov. Datu Pax S. Pakung Mangudadatu and his 12 mayors; Sulu Gov. Abdusakar A. Tan II and his 13 mayors; Basilan Gov. Hadjiman Salliman and 10 local mayors; Tawi-Tawi Gov. Gov. Nurbert Sahali and his 9 mayors and Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi.
Under the law, governors and mayors are automatically deputized as representatives of the Napolcom in their respective jurisdiction, and are allowed to “inspect police forces and units, conduct audit, and exercise other functions as may be authorized by the Commission.”
PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde had said that police are ready to exercise full control of police functions in all cities and municipalities in the country especially when it comes to enforcing discipline in the streets once President Duterte gives them the green light.