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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap

The DAILY STAR choice for Newsmaker of the Year is a man who was hounded by controversy for the most part of 2011.

Since he was elected as mayor of Escalante City in Negros Occidental in 2007, Melecio “Beboy” Yap has been hounded by allegations, and issues involving extra-judicial killings that reached 19 as 2011 ended, and his alleged links to the New People’s Army.

While the mayor has vehemently denied such allegations, dismissing them as politically-motivated, the National Police Commission in 2011 stripped him of his supervisory and operational control over the Escalante police, based on a confidential report of Chief Supt.  Cipriano Querol, regional police director, and former Napolcom regional director Honey Paredes.

Yap has cried, foul saying the NAPOLCOM did not even bother to get his side.

Querol also ordered the relief of 22 policemen branded as allies of Yap, without prior consultation with the local government of Escalante.

Apparently piqued, Yap initially ordered the recall of equipment  extended to the Escalante police.

The move of Yap was supported by the majority of the Escalante City council members.

On the other hand, President  Benigno Aquino III ordered the creation of a top level special task force, composed of the departments of Justice, Interior and Local Government, as well as Commission on Human Rights, to look into allegations of extra-judicial killings in Escalante City, and other criminal activities.

Yap said he hopes the creation of the task force will resolve the issues against him, while stressing that his conscience is clear.* Gilbert P. Bayoran



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