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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

House grills NAPOLCOM on alleged injustice against Zamboanga del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles
05 December 2018 11:27:34 AM

The House Committee on Public Order and Safety, chaired by Rep. Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City), on Tuesday began its inquiry on the alleged injustice made by the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) Head and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Acting Secretary Catalino Cuy against Zamboanga del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles.

On November 20, 2017, Rep. Aurora Enerio Cerilles (2nd District, Zamboanga del Sur) delivered Privilege Speech No. 301 about Resolution 2017-571 filed by the NAPOLCOM withdrawing the deputization of Governor Cerilles that led to allegations of him committing drug-related crimes.

In his preliminary remarks, Acop bared that the NAPOLCOM served the resolution on the basis of a confidential report furnished by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) outlining the Governor’s alleged abuse of authority.

However, Rep. Cerilles questioned the NAPOLCOM for concealing the said report. “What is this confidential report? If it has something to do with abuses, bakit naging confidential ito? How can the Governor refute the allegations against him? It was unfair on his part,” she said.

Deputy Majority Leader Rodante Marcoleta (Party-list, SAGIP) echoed the significance of informing the accused on charges filed against him saying, “Doesn’t the Governor deserve to be given his day in court? The due process…Was he given the right to be informed, be involved, and be able to address the kind of charge that was contained in that confidential report?”

Governor Cerilles told the panel that he has already inquired with the NICA and the DILG about said confidential report and even sent them a letter requesting for a copy of such.

Conversely, there was an admission from Cuy that the Governor was not provided with a copy of the report and was deprived of his right to due process.

Moreover, Acop stressed that the NAPOLCOM neglected its own protocols directing the Commission to evaluate and thoroughly validate all complaints or reports that are forwarded to it.

When asked about the steps taken by the NAPOLCOM on the confidential report, Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao said that the directive given to the Regional Director to validate and verify the report were all made verbally, which received adverse response from the Committee members.

Rep. Makmod Mending Jr. (Party-list, AMIN) also noted that the memorandum circulars issued by the Commission are beyond what the Law has provided.

He explained that the motu proprio bestowed upon the NAPOLCOM was only on their power to restore suspended deputization of local chief executives and not the actual withdrawal of deputization.

Casurao later on expressed his appreciation for the hearing which to him has revealed the inconsistencies in the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) of the NAPOLCOM. He vowed to work on fine-tuning the provisions of their circulars that are not in accordance with the law.

“We are not questioning your IRRs and your memorandum circulars. What we are bringing out in this forum is the fact that you have not followed the protocols that you have provided…We are not questioning your authority. We are questioning how you used that authority,” Acop clarified.

At the latter part of the hearing, representatives from the, Philippine National Police (PNP) and NICA, among others, claimed that they have never received any complaints against Governor Cerilles accusing him of any form of offense.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director Jigger Montallana also asserted that the Governor was never a part of the “narco-politicians" list.

In an interview, Governor Cerilles also showed gratitude to the House for addressing this problem of NAPOLCOM issuing circulars that are beyond the intentions of the law.

"I am grateful to Chairman Acop for presiding the Committee Meeting on a very smooth and intelligent manner resulting in the majority opinion that due process was not observed and that there are some memorandum circulars done by the NAPOLCOM which are ultra vires. I am also grateful to the immediate past Provincial Directors of the PNP so with the past and present Battalion Commanders of the 53rd Infantry Battalion which covers the whole Zamboanga del Sur for vouching for my good moral character and good governance. As a matter of fact, it was during the stint of Col. Alvin Luzon when the province of Zamboanga del Sur was declared Peaceful and Ready for Further Development jointly by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Army, and the DILG, PNP. The PDEA, the National, Regional and Provincial Officers who said that I was never included in the list of narco-politicians. The intention of Congw. Aurora Enerio-Cerilles is not to find out who is at fault but it is a good hearing especially on the action of the NAPOLCOM to withdraw deputization. Due process has to be followed and that the NAPOLCOM failed to follow their protocols. I am very happy that the Committee Meeting found out that there are some of circulars of the NAPOLCOM which are ultra vires. I have been a member of the Congress for 5 terms. Committee Meetings in Congress can always be in aid of legislation so we can have a system where everybody has to respect the law and nobody should be above the law.” Governor Cerilles said.

The Committee was scheduled to hold an executive session for the concerned agency to be able to present the confidential report used against Governor Cerilles.

Also present in the proceeding were Reps. Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan), Joseph Stephen Paduano (Party-list, ABANG LINGKOD), Edgar Mary Sarmiento (1st District, Samar), Divina Grace Yu (1st District, Zamboanga del Sur), Ben Evardone (Lone District, Eastern Samar), Strike Revilla (2nd District, Cavite), Raul Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City), and Scott Davies Lañete M.D. (3rd District, Masbate). | Molie Gonzales