Chief Supt. Cipriano Querol, regional police director of Western Visayas, yesterday retracted his earlier statement that he may recommend the reinstatement of the supervisory powers of Mayor Melecio Yap over the Escalante police, saying that he has no jurisdiction over the matter.
“It is only the task force that can make a recommendation relative to the status of Mayor Yap. Thus, it is inappropriate for me to make any move that would pre-empt or prejudice the findings and decisions of the task force,” Querol said, in a statement issued by the Police Regional Office 6 Public Information Office.
Task Force Escalante, that was organized in October last year, is now investigating the alleged extra-legal killings in Escalante City since 2007. It is composed of representatives from the departments of Interior and Local Government and Justice, Commission of Human Rights, representatives from the provincial government and civil society.
In an interview with reporters at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz, during the 3rd Infantry Division turnover of command ceremony on Feb. 6, Querol said that the restoration of support to the Escalante police by the mayor, “is a good indication that we will have a stronger police partnership with the LGU, hopefully”.
“With that, maybe we could study or evaluate it that if we will be fully supported by the LGU, we could restore the authority over the police, but I am not the approving ( authority), I can only recommend… I can only recommend,” said Querol, whose statement was recorded by the media.
Pressed further if he may recommend the restoration of the authority of Yap over the police, Querol replied ”Yes, it depends… but this will not be my action alone, I also have to confer with members of the Joint Area Peace and Security Coordinating Committee, which is co-chaired by the Philippine Army. I cannot act (on) that all alone, but with the JPSCC”.
Yap, who was stripped of his police supervisory power by the National Police Commission for his alleged links to the New People’s Army, based on the confidential report of Querol, and former Napolcom regional director Honey Paredes, returned several equipment and a patrol car, memorandum receipts for which were signed by some of the 12 relieved Escalante police, last month.
Querol said Yap even replaced the tires of the vehicle issued by the Escalante City government to the city police.
The suspension of Yap was also fueled by the growing sentiments of the people of Escalante City over the alleged unbroken pattern of extrajudicial and largely unsolved killings in the first district of Negros Occidental and Escalante City, a statement from the Police Regional Office 6 PIO also said.
Quero also said earlier that he will no longer recall the 12 members of 6th Regional Public Safety Battalion, who had replaced the 12 policemen last year at the Escalante City Police Station.
He stressed the importance of augmenting the Escalante police force with more policemen, since it is among the problematic areas in northern Negros, in terms of the insurgency problem.
Querol said he is coordinating with the Philippine Army to concentrate on Escalante City, Calatrava and Toboso, which will also be the focus of police operations.*GPB