ILOILO City – Members of Congress are known to come to the defense of beleaguered colleagues. But this practice has its limits.
Yesterday, Cong. Leopoldo Bataoil of Pangasinan criticized the mauling of Guimbal, Iloilo’s Police Officer 3 Federico Macaya Jr. in a privilege speech at the House of Representatives.
“My heart bleeds for PO3 Macaya and many others who, like him, are all but nameless men and women in uniform quietly serving, and even dying, albeit some of them being subjected as well to assault, disrespect and abuse by persons in high elective office – the so-called mighty and powerful,” said Bataoil, a former police officer.
Macaya had filed criminal and administrative charges against Cong. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. (1st District, Iloilo) and Guimbal mayor Oscar “Oca” Garin Sr. before the Office of the Ombudsman. He complained he was mauled on Dec. 26, 2018 near the Guimbal town hall.
“I am sorry if my words here today will ruffle some feathers. That is not my intention,” said Bataoil who had served as chief of the regional operations and plans division of the Police Regional Office 6 between 2000 and 2001.
Congressman Garin, however, was not in the House when Bataoil delivered his speech.
“My intention is merely to remind us that we are not high and mighty,” stressed Bataoil.
He also acknowledged that his congressman colleague “involved in that incident has not only publicly apologized for what transpired, but has also accorded nothing but cooperation to our law enforcement authorities, especially the PNP.”
Be that as it may, said Bataoil, “I condemn in the strongest terms the fate that befell Police Officer 3 Federico Macaya Jr. of Guimbal police station when he was subjected to kicks, slaps and fist blows while the hapless policeman was handcuffed, unable to defend himself, and held at gunpoint.”
No one is above the law, stressed Bataoil.
At the gallery listening to Bataoil’s speech were Macaya and Iloilo Police Provincial Office director Senior Superintendent Marlon Tayaba, among many other police officers present.
Explaining his speaking out against a House colleague’s action, Bataoil said, “This podium and our platform here in Congress has always been, and will always be, for those who have no voice or for those who sentiments are hardly heard in our venerable halls.”
According to Bataoil, the Guimbal incident could resurrect the debate on Republic Act 8551 (Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998), specifically Section 13 on the “Authority of the Commission to Reorganize the PNP” as it pertains to Section 62 (operational supervision and control of police forces under local government units).
Bataoil asked: “Should the power to direct the employment and deployment of units or elements of the PNP…to ensure public safety and effective maintenance of peace and order within the locality at the level of the province, city or municipality remain with the LGU chiefs?”
According to the congressman, “some local chief executives themselves become the source of mischief and their power renders their chief of police prostrate to any meaningful action.”
Bataoil said he agreed with PNP’s Director General Oscar Albayalde’s statement that the Guimbal incident must not be allowed to pass without justice, and that Macaya must be provided appropriate legal assistance in pursuing his complaint and to defend himself against possible counter charges.
He further said the National Police Commission’s decision to strip Mayor Garin of deputation power over the Guimbal police force was reasonable./PN