House Terminates Inquiry on NAPOLCOM Injustice Against Governor Cerilles

“Strengthen the law so that this institution will be that strong. Democracy will be strong” – Gov. Cerilles

House Members shall soon file a measure that would amend Republic Act No. 6975 or the “Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990” and Republic Act No. 8551 or the “Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998,” particularly the provisions on deputization.

This cropped up on Tuesday during the hearing conducted by the Committee on Public Order and Safety, chaired by Rep. Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City), which terminated its inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the injustice committed by the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) against Zamboanga del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles. The hearing was presided by Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City).

Prior to the termination, Rep. Aurora Enerio Cerilles (2nd District, Zamboanga del Sur) motioned “[For the] findings of the honorable committee to be the bases for further clarifying the PNP Law, by amending the provisions concerning the withdrawal and restoration of the powers of deputization of the Governor over the PNP in his province.”

“The way forward would be to file a bill, proposing the amendments on the provisions [on deputization],” said Biazon.

Rep. Cerilles reiterated that the crucial findings ascertained in the previous meetings that (a) Governor Cerilles was deprived of his right to due process, (b) the memorandum circular being used by the NAPOLCOM is beyond what is provided by the Philippine Constitution, and (c) the NAPOLCOM neglected its own protocols on cases/reports, among others.

With these, the concerned agencies were directed to communicate with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the issue of Governor Cerilles.

In his remarks before the Committee, Governor Cerilles expressed surprise why a publicly acknowledged well-performing and faithful public servant like him was being maligned. He said the Civil Service Commission (CSC) even awarded him last year (2018) as “Most Outstanding Government Worker” for Presidential Lingkod Bayan Category, the only elected official given that award.

“Kaya nagtataka po ako bakit po ako binabastos,” said Governor Cerilles.

Governor Cerilles said he has served so many governments as early as 1979 and even during the time of former President Marcos. Even before that, he said he was the only legal counsel who represented LAMP or the Legal Assistance for Military Personnel – Region 9. “Nobody would volunteer. I volunteered my time and money to represent men in uniform who were not represented by counsel,” he said.

“After serving the government from (the time of ) President Marcos, Mrs. Aquino, President Ramos, President Estrada, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Noynoy Aquino, now President Duterte, I thought all the while, (that) the Philippine National Police has been professionalized,” he said.

It was rather sad, he said, that this is his last term as governor, and all of a sudden, he got this resolution from the NAPOLCOM about a confidential report which stated that his deputization was suspended.

“I look at the law. Although the word deputization was used, but that is the law, not an action of Napolcom. And if you read further, there should be grounds, as a matter of fact, I was surprised because up to now you seem to be very evasive on what kind of abuse I’ve done,” said Governor Cerilles.

Governor Cerilles said he cannot accuse the Napolcom Commissioners of ignorance of the law because some or most of them are lawyers. He expressed hope that as public servants, we can work together to strengthen the law instead of using the law to abuse others.

“Because after our stint in government, it would be the (turn of the) next generation. Then who will protect them when we ourselves don’t want to start on how to amend, review, strengthen the law so that this institution will be that strong. Democracy will be strong,” he said.

Governor Cerilles also exhorted the committee, “My fellow public servants, I am not here to look for vengeance. I’m here to help our institution strengthen the laws that we have…We should always think about what is best for this country and what will be better for the next generation. I hope all of us, government employees, should give justice to the money that we receive everytime we received our salary.”

He also stressed that during the first committee hearing, no less than the Provincial Directors of the PNP, PDEA and Philippine Army Battalion Commanders (53rd IB) stated that during their stint in Zamboanga del Sur, they have never received any complaints against Governor Cerilles and even NICA Provincial Director Jesus Auxillio stated the same and that he merely received the complaints against the Governor and without validation, and just forwarded it to the NICA head office.

Governor Cerilles also expressed surprise why Pagadian City was made a hot spot when the AFP through the Philippine Army and the DILG through the PNP declared Zamboanga del Sur as peaceful.

Meanwhile, in terms of the performance of his province, Governor Cerilles said Zamboanga del Sur got awards and recognition for doing well in health and agriculture which are the two important functions devolved to the local government units (LGUs).

“In health, Zambonga del Sur has been awarded by the DOH as the ‘Most Improved in Health Services.’ We are the only province that has a tertiary hospital with 400-bed capacity and LGU-run. We are earning more than P300 million a year,” he said.

In agriculture, he said there are five rice achiever provinces in the country, of which four are from Luzon namely, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Tarlac. The only rice achiever province from Mindanao is Zamboanga del Sur, he said. And for the third consecutive year, the province has been proclaimed as corn achiever. “Hall of Famer na po kami. The Association of Southeast Asia scientific agriculturist recognized my effort in agriculture in Hanoi, Vietnam,” said Governor Cerilles.

Meanwhile, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Chief Directorial Staff Atty. Roberton Lapuz reported that the agency had already forwarded a letter to the Office of the President (OP) in December 2018, requesting for the release of this confidential report, which was utilized by NAPOLCOM as basis of the withdrawal of Governor Cerilles’ deputization.

“The letter basically requested permission to release the classified document, pertaining to the Honorable Governor Cerilles, so that the said document can be used to expedite the restoration of the deputization of police supervision of Governor Cerilles,” explained Lapuz.

NAPOLCOM Commissioner Felizardo Serapio Jr. noted that they have also sent a letter to the OP, recounting the House proceedings on the issue and appealing to the President for the restoration of the Governor’s deputization.

Rep. Makmod Mending Jr. (Party-list, AMIN) also asked if the NAPOLCOM has started discussing the improvements to be made in their protocols.

NAPOLCOM Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao stated that they have already convened to review the memorandum circular of the Commission on the suspension and restoration of deputization.

Acop then called on the NAPOLCOM to provide a copy of the record of the proceedings conducted by the Commission on the case of Governor Cerilles, excluding the actual document used against the Governor, in consideration of its confidentiality.

After Casurao confirmed that these records are public documents, Acop said “Therefore, the public can scrutinize and look at the records of the case on Governor Antonio Cerilles…You have claimed from the very start of this committee meeting that you cannot provide the confidential report, then you can omit so.” | NDS/PPAB

Credits to: Zambosur News Patrol

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