IRKED by the involvement of rogue policemen in criminal activities and the three cases of deadly ambuscades in La Union this year, the latest of which killed Balaoan Vice Mayor Al-fred Concepcion and his aide last Wednesday morning, Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde scolded concerned officers in a closed-door conference at the PNP Training Service in Camp Crame on Thursday, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
“The Chief, PNP was fuming at the spate of embarrassing incidents, many of them attributed to the failure of some police commanders to take appropriate actions that could have prevented those incidents,” said a senior official present when Gen. Albayalde took his men to task for nearly two hours.
Officials said they are assessing the performance of Police Regional Office 1 officials in the wake of the three deadly ambuscades in the province this year. The PRO1, which has jurisdiction over the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, is headed by Chief Superintendent Romulo E. Sapitula who will be retiring on April 25 next year.
Last May 12, former La Union Representative Eufranio Eriguel, his two aides and a supporter were killed by gunmen who attacked them as they were attending a Sangguniang Kabataan meeting in Barangay Capas in Agoo municipality.
On October 1, assassins shot dead Sudipen town mayor Alexander Buquing, his policeman-bodyguard and a driver during a daring attack that also wounded the mayor’s wife, Vice Mayor Wendy Joy Buquing.
What got the PNP chief’s goat was the third incident in Balaoan town last Wednesday morning which killed Concepcion and wounded his daughter Mayor Aleli Concepcion.
In all three incidents, the local police suspected that guns-for-hire working for political rivals of the victims were behind the deadly attacks. However, Camp Crame officials said they were puzzled why those attacks continued with police seemingly helpless in stopping the assassins despite the PNP leadership’s directive for a massive crackdown against partisan armed groups, guns-for-hire and loose firearms that could be used to sow terror during the May 2019 mid-term polls.
On Thursday, Gen. Albayalde had his so-called “Commander’s Time” with 128 key police officials in Camp Crame where he declared he really means business when it comes to the crackdown against criminality, specifically drugs and rogues in uniform.
The 128 officials are either Deputy District Director for Operation of the 5 National Capital Region Police Office districts; Provincial or City Directors or commanders of the various Regional and District Mobile Force Battalions.
The PNP chief told the officials he will implement a ‘one-strike policy’ on local police officials if their personnel figure in cases of abuse including rape and extortion.
“They will be held responsible for the deeds and misdeeds of their personnel. There will be no second chances as we have issued them reminders time and time again,” Gen. Albayalde said.
Discussed during the 2-day meeting at Camp Crame were the ongoing PNP internal cleansing, the PNP’s disciplinary powers, leadership, key policies and directives, fiscal accountability, the Enhanced Managing Police Operations, the anti-illegal drugs and internal security operations, ISIS-inspired terrorism, the upcoming plebiscite of the Bangsamoro Organic Law as well as the preparations for the forthcoming 2019 mid-term polls.
Gen. Albayalde said that as they are in the thick of the campaign against illegal drugs and rogues in uniform, they most importantly need to address various other security concerns to ensure that they will remain responsive to the needs and expectations of the public.
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Benigno B. Durana Jr. said that the meeting is a must since leaders at all levels should be extraordinarily vigilant, active and visible in their leadership roles to effectively influence the situation on the ground as they carry on their respective mandates.
“We mean business not business as usual. We expect that as well from all commanders as we implement our program thrusts of intensified campaign against illegal drugs and misfits and scalawags in uniform; and strengthened public engagement,” Gen. Albayalde said.
The country’s top cop assured the public that police commanders will be strictly held accountable for what his unit does or fails to do. “Accountability breeds responsibility. Provincial Directors, City Directors, Station Commanders, Municipal Police Station chiefs and Regional Mobile Force commanders should expect the same from their subordinate leaders,” he said.