Politics behind Kidapawan police chief’s relief?

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 3 Jan) – The police city director here will be replaced Friday, following the fate of his former immediate superior, the provincial director, in what many believe was “dirty politics” at work.

Supt. Renante Cabico, who served his post for nearly a year, will be replaced by Supt. Joseph Semillano, former chief of police of Midsayap town, as the new city director. Cabico’s relief came a week after Sr. Supt. Roque Alcantara, the North Cotabato provincial police chief, was also sacked.

Joy Francisco, one of the conveners of Watch Cotabato, a group of media and civil society organizations in North Cotabato, said that Cabico caught the ire of Rep. Nancy Catamco (2nd Dist.) after the police chief filed in May last year a case of illegal possession of firearms against one of the congresswoman’s staff.

Cabico said that unlike Alcantara’s relief, he would leave his office quietly. “There will be no ceremony to take place. I will just leave the office when the new city police director takes over,” said Cabico.

“This is the price I get for doing my job,” he lamented.

Cabico said his relief was unusual because normally they will get the order from Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police, or from the regional police office in General Santos City. But now, he got information about his relief “from these politicians,” referring to Catamco and Kidapawan City Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco.

When the complaint of illegal possession of firearms against Basilio Obello Jr., the congresswoman’s public affairs chief, was dismissed last November at the city prosecutor’s office due to some technicalities, Cabico filed falsification of public documents against Obello.

Cabico was earlier quoted as saying that the documents that Obello presented in the prosecutor’s office were “highly questionable.”

Watch Cotabato, using as basis a document from Camp Crame, said Obello is not a licensed gun holder and that his caliber 5.56mm rifle with serial number PR 08493 is considered a “wanted firearm” by authorities.

The document, dated Dec. 6, 2012, is signed by Chief Insp. Rodrigo Benedicto Sarmiento Jr., chief of the records section of PNP Crame’s Firearm and Explosive Division.

The document said: “As of Dec. 6, 2012, Obello is not a licensed or registered firearm holder, based on the records of this office. One rifle, caliber 5.56 PR 08493, is not licensed or registered in this office. Firearm status: wanted firearm.”

Fr. Pol Paracha, a human rights activist in North Cotabato, expressed disbelief that the recent turn of events in the police organization in North Cotabato has something to do with politics.

“These police officers have become victims of dirty politics. The relief of these good police officers is a disservice to the people of North Cotabato,” seconded Francisco.

Watch Cotabato is set to hold an indignation rally here tomorrow, Friday. The group said its rally is aimed at telling the PNP they are disappointed and indignant over the relief of Alcantara and Cabico.

Cabico would be transferred to the Cotabato provincial headquarters at Amas Complex here. Alcantara, meanwhile, was assigned at the regional police headquarters.

Catamco’s legal counsel, Chris Cabilen, cried foul over the “malicious” accusations hurled against his client.

“I don’t think my client will use her power and influence to replace somebody in the police organization just because a case was filed against her staff. Obello’s case is just a simple case. We can even post bail for his temporary liberty if ever he would be found guilty,” said Cabilen. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)