The planned mass relief of all Philippine National Police personnel in Negros Oriental, as part of the “cleansing of the ranks” following the assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo, has been put on hold, a key official said on Saturday.
Brig. Gen. Anthony Aberin, Police Regional Office-Central Visayas director, made the announcement during a multi-sectoral stakeholders’ engagement at the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, as part of the command visit of PNP Chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr.
“The massive replacement of NOPPO police officers is currently on hold,” General Aberin said.
Should there be changes or movement, he said, it will be on a need-basis only, unless a police officer is recommended for relief by the Provincial Director or the mayor.
The plan to conduct a “cleansing of the ranks” was to dispel doubts on the integrity of Negros Oriental police officers, after an investigation showed that some of them have alleged links to politicians who were implicated in the March 4 Degamo murder.
They were to be replaced by officers from nearby provinces but the implementation was stalled due to the lack of personnel to be reassigned, according to General Aberin.
Also, local chief executives and governors from nearby provinces had reacted to the move, noting that this would displace police personnel who are also their respective constituents, he added.
He assured consultations would be conducted first, prior to the relief of any police personnel from Negros Oriental.
Shortly after the attack at Degamo’s residence in Pamplona town, where the Governor and nine others were killed, and 16 others were wounded, General Aberin confirmed an order from the PNP headquarters that all police personnel in Negros Oriental will face relief and reassignment.
Aberin said he has tasked the Regional Intelligence Division to assess police officers assigned to different stations in the Province as to who should be removed to dispel the perception that they are compromising the integrity of the PNP.
All personnel from police stations in Bayawan City, Sta. Catalina, and Valencia were relieved shortly after the massacre, and sent for “retraining”.
Meanwhile, the Bacong police force is planning to relieve most of its personnel, following the Senate inquiry into the killings in Negros Oriental.
The PRO-7 Director said the massive relief may be reconsidered once they are able to discuss with “responsible members of the community and leaders” to get their opinions.
The Senate hearings have since provoked an “enormous distrust” in assigned police personnel, he lamented, while insisting that most of them are “not involved in illegal activities”. (Judy F. Partlow/PNA)