Zubiri wants Bukidnon police chief out

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 September) – Bukidnon vice governor Jose Ma. Zubiri wants provincial police chief,  Supt. Nerio Bermudo and his deputy for administration, Supt. Jerry Linsagan out, citing their alleged failure to stop illegal gambling and other crimes in the province.

Zubiri made the call at the question hour on Sept. 22 when the Sangguniang Panlalawigan tackled the issue on illegal gambling.

“They failed to stop illegal gambling in the province, we will recommend (to the Governor) their replacement,’ Zubiri said. The two police officials denied the claim

Gov. Alex Calingasan met with Bermudo two weeks ago on  the growing criminality in the province. Before the meeting, Bermudo spoke at the provincial board where Zubiri warned him to produce results up to the end of the year or be sacked.

Bukidnon has at least 43 illegal gambling operators, Police Senior Inspector Duphar Chris Cuaresma, an intelligence officer told the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on September 22.

Zubiri had called Cuaresma to the podium after he read the Bukidnon Provincial Police Office’s report to him on illegal gambling.

Cuaresma attested to the veracity of a police report that there are at least 43 illegal gambling operators in the province.

Zubiri invoked the Philippine National Police’s one-strike policy to sack chiefs of police the first time jueteng or any illegal gambling operation is discovered in their area.

PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo was quoted in reports, that they will be stricter by implementing a “one-strike” policy.

Bacalzo said they would be deploying “tracker teams” to track down and identify suspected illegal gambling bet collectors.

If the tracker team arrests a bet collector in a certain area, the police station commander would be immediately relieved. “The provincial commander will be sacked if there are three arrests in his province,” Bacalzo added.

The police leadership first implemented the one-strike policy against jueteng in 2005 but this was not sustained.

Bacalzo ordered an intensified campaign against jueteng to disprove his link to the illegal numbers game.

As a long term holistic approach, Bacalzo said all 17 PNP regional directors were ordered to submit their respective comprehensive plans against illegal gambling in coordination with the local government units and other stakeholders.

Zubiri said that based on this policy, Bermudo should be sacked. He said the police leadership failed to solve the illegal gambling province of Bukidnon.

Board member Ranulfo Pepito said police should push for preventive operations and should not focus only on apprehension.

Board member Rogelio Lago agreed with Zubiri’s suggestion to sack erring police officials.

He added the provincial government should file charges against these police officials.

But on Zubiri’s suggestion to overhaul the police leadership in the province, Lago, former Baungon town mayor added a question: “Naa pa ba kaha ta’y mapili (Do we have a choice?),” he asked.

Lago said most if not all police officials are accessories (to illegal gambling).

“I can prove that,” he added citing his experience in Baungon. He said three police officers were relieved. But they were only reassigned, he added.

He recommended convening the Bukidnon Peace and Order Summit to tackle the problem. He said he agrees on the over haulplan and subject the new ones to a workshop for a covenant during the summit. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)