Bleak chance for Malaybalay’s police auxiliary unit – mayor

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/16 July) — There is a “bleak chance” for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to approve the request of the City Government of Malaybalay to create its own local police auxiliary unit, Mayor Ignacio Zubiri said.

Zubiri told MindaNews Wednesday that DILG Sec. Jessie Robredo told him on June 16 that the Philippine National Police is unsure if they will allow the unit to be armed.

“It is useless to form the city-funded unit if they will not be armed (to augment the police),” he said.

He added that they are still hoping it will be reconsidered although “they are not counting so much on it.”

In the meantime, Zubiri said the city government is intensifying the training of the city’s close to 1,000 Barangay Police Safety Officers (tanods). About half of the BPSOs are new due to the changes brought about by the barangay elections, he added.

Zubiri told a press conference in March that the city will pursue the police auxiliary unit because of the shortage of police officers.

He expressed optimism that the city government will get the DILG’s approval for an initial 40-member police auxiliary unit.

He said then that his recent meeting with Robredo was “encouraging,” adding the secretary acknowledged receipt of his proposal and “seems to favor” it.

He said the city government’s plan might be considered despite an order suspending the use of police auxiliaries following the Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao province on November 23, 2009.  Fifty-eight persons were killed then, 32 of them media workers.

Zubiri cited the city’s insurgency problem as one reason for the plan to form a police auxiliary unit.

Earlier in March, three police investigators from the Bukidnon provincial police office and another one from the Malaybapay police station were killed in an ambush by suspected New People’s Army rebels on their way to Mapayag village to investigate the killing of a former barangay captain.

In 2009, the city government organized the Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliary (SCAA).

Zubiri said the city’s 87 policemen are not enough to serve its 146,000 residents.

The creation of a police auxiliary unit was also pushed following the murder of Bukidnon State University instructor Jay Jaspher Santoninio in November 2010 and the robbery on January 31 this year on Development Bank of the Philippines personnel bringing some P500,000 for the bank’s ATM outlet at the city proper.

The robbery led to the death of security guard Pedro Cabalida.

Critics hit the city’s lack of police visibility, which they say, has emboldened criminals. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)