Guv Gwen slams PNP over CPPO chief relief

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, criticized the Philippine National Police (PNP) over the relief of Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO) director Col. Engelbert Soriano just days after he supported her controversial executive order (EO) that makes wearing of face mask wearing in open and well-ventilated spaces in the province optional.In a press conference, Garcia slammed the PNP, particularly its acting chief, Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., for relieving Soriano over his statement supporting Garcia’s EO 16.ShockedGarcia said she was shocked to find out that Soriano was relieved from his post on Sunday, June 12.Garcia said Soriano was reportedly being relieved due to allegations that he was “politicking.”“And so General (Vicente) Danao accuses Colonel Soriano of being a sucker? This was in Filipino so sipsip. Sipsip to whom? To me? I assure you Colonel Soriano cannot be told what to do especially when he feels that this would have involve him in politicking,” Garcia said.“I have been trying to find out, trying again and again asking what violent crime, what violent infraction or violation did Colonel Soriano commit except that he took a stand recognizing my executive order,” the governor added.When the PNP announced that it has relieved Soriano, it didn’t say anything about his statement of support to Garcia’s EO 16.“His relief is pursuant to the provisions of PNP Memorandum Circular 2022-002, which states that Provincial Director, City Director or COP (chief of police) of NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) shall be held by a PCOL (police colonel) for a continuous period of one year, extendible to a maximum of three months upon approval by the CPNP (chief PNP),” said PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo.Nothing wrongGarcia added that she also found nothing wrong with Soriano’s statement, adding that the local police should instead focus on criminals rather than apprehending unmasked individuals.She said that she chose Soriano to lead CPPO due to his performance in his previous assignments.She added that she, as governor of Cebu, was given the mandate to choose her CPPO director as mandated by Republic Act 6975, or the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, which establishes the PNP.Courtesy callGarcia admitted that on Tuesday, June 14, Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO 7) Director Brig. Gen. Roque Eduardo Vega and incoming CPPO director Col. Elmer Lim visited her office for a courtesy call.But Garcia said she has yet to issue any directives to Lim as acting CPPO director.In a related development, CPPO officials admitted that Lim had not assumed office as of Wednesday, June 15. They have yet to receive the official relief orders from the PNP headquarters.Lt. Col. Mark Gifter Sucalit, CPPO’s deputy director for operation, said in an interview that as of the moment, Lt. Col. Milbert Esguerra, CPPO’s deputy director for administration, is serving as their acting chief.But whoever will lead them at CPPO, Sucalit assured that their campaign against criminality remains unhampered.Sucalit added that while they will follow the PNP’s order to implement the minimum health protocols, he didn’t say if they will implement arrests against unmasked individuals.Following his relief, Soriano has been reassigned to the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management at the PNP headquarters in Metro Manila. (ANV, AYB / JKV)