Cebu killings rose after new police chiefs came – Mayor Osmeña

MANILA, Philippines – Why are more Cebu City killings being reported in the past few weeks?

Cebu City Mayor Tomas "Tommy" Osmeña said he does not exactly know why, but he is sure that police had something to do with it. He even went as far as saying the rise in killings happened after the assignment of new Cebu police chiefs.

"It (rise in killings) definitely started when they came in the picture," Osmeña said in a Rappler Talk on Friday, August 10, referring to new Cebu City police chief Senior Superintendent Royina Garma and Central Visayas top cop Chief Superintendent Debold Sinas.

From July to early August, Cebu saw the killing of – at the very least – a barangay councilor, a couple, two PDEA agents, and a 4-year-old child killed by a stray bullet.

Who are the new cops? Garma is the first woman top cop of Cebu City. She was promoted to head the southern city's cops just in July, replacing popular city police chief Joel Doria who enjoyed pleasant relations with the Commission on Human Rights.

Before being promoted, Garma headed a police station in Cebu City too. Still, Osmeña couldn't give her his trust as she was not recommended by him for the post.

Sinas, meanwhile, replaced in early June Chief Superintendent Robert Quenery, who claims to have brought down index crimes in the region by around 35% before bowing out.

Sinas used to head the PNP Camp Crame's Crime Lab before he was assigned to Cebu.

Senior Superintendent Manuel Abrugena replaced Senior Superintendent Edgar Alan Okubo in May, but Osmeña said he has not engaged in spats with Abrugena, unlike with Garma and Doria.

Give them a chance: This does not mean that Osmeña is fully closing relations with cops. As a mayor, he still needs law enforcers to keep his city in order. His primary channel to them is no less than the local police chief.

Osmeña pointed out he would like to give Garma a chance.

"I said, give her a chance, because why not give her a chance? But of course, I have reservations," Osmeña said.

Her predecessor Doria, meanwhile, had to prove himself to Osmeña after heading Pasay City at the time when the Close-Up Forever Summer fiasco happened.

Due to Osmeña’s reservations, the Cebu mayor said he currently operates "at arm's length" with police officials. Through his publicized personal number, Osmeña said he relays reports from Cebuanos to the cops. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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