Dimaporo questions removal of local officials' power over cops

MANILA, Philippines – A Mindanao lawmaker on Wednesday, December 13, questioned the decision of the executive to strip local chief executives in Mindanao of their power over police.

Lanao de Norte 1st District Representative Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo raised his opposition to the decision during the joint session of Congress on the request of President Rodrigo Duterte for a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao, which he said he supports.

“What is the police doing?” asked Dimaporo, referring to the police’s role in addressing “lawlessness” and violence in Mindanao, which has been under martial law since May 23.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a letter to Congress, is asking for its approval for a year-long extension of martial law in the island, citing threats from terror groups, including the New People’s Army (NPA). Martial law is supposed to lapse by the end of the year, and another extension, if granted, would stretch it until December 31, 2018.

The National Police Commission (Napolcom), which has administrative control of the police, had stripped some mayors and governors in Mindanao of their deputation, meaning the officials no longer have control over local police units in their areas.

Instead of the mayors and governors, it’s the police hierarchy and the Department of the Interior and Local Government that have direct control of the local police units.

In November, the Napolcom confirmed that 25 mayors and governors were stripped of their powers over police. This was after they had stripped more than 100 local chief executives of the same power back in July.

Ironically, it was the local chief executives’ apparent “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” that prompted the Napolcom’s action this year.

Dimaporo called on the police to deploy more personnel – from the Special Action Force and the regional police units – in Mindanao areas. – Rappler.com