Thorough inspection at city hall entrance ordered

SECURITY CHECK. Guards inspect a woman’s bag at the entrance of Iloilo City Hall. The city government has tightened security measures at city hall following the police’s report of having recovered guns and a grenade from two security aides of Councilor Plaridel Nava. The councilor, however, insists the so-called recoveries were “planted.” IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – Mayor Jose Espinosa III ordered a stricter inspection of people entering city hall.

The police on Monday claimed to have recovered guns and a grenade from two security aides of Councilor Plaridel Nava, raising questions on how thorough city hall’s security guards were in inspecting people.

According to City Administrator Hernando Galvez, bringing firearms and explosives at city hall is prohibited and security guards have been instructed to enforce strictly this long-standing policy.

The city government has contracted the services of a security agency to secure its premises. Two security guards are posted at the two main entrances and one at the backdoor. One security guard is roving.

Galvez said the frisking at the entrances must be fair and not selective.

“Striktuhon. Wala sang pinilian,” he stressed. “Bisan lisensyado pa firearm mo, indi mo na pwede dal-on sa sulod city hall.”

According to the police, Nava’s security aides – the brothers Roy and Rey Julius Delos Reyes – yielded three .45 pistols with bullets and a hand grenade at the councilor’s office.

The brothers were arrested at city hall on Jan. 7. They were tagged as suspects in the killing of Nava’s estranged cousin Mercedes on Jan. 4.

Councilor Nava belied the police’s claim that his security aides had guns. He said the supposed recoveries were “planted.”

Galvez, however, said the security guards may have allow the brothers to enter city hall without frisking them “out of courtesy” since they were part of a city official’s staff.

According to Galvez, as much as the executive branch of the city government wanted to investigate the incident, it could not “because the involved is under the City Council.”

Ang administrative authority indi sa mayor kundi sa talatapan sang Sangguniang Panlungsod, particular sa Office of the Vice Mayor,” he said.

In a separate interview, Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon said he was encouraging city officials and their bodyguards to voluntarily deposit their guns with security guards upon entering city hall.

He, however, acknowledged that the guards may be hesitant to frisk officials and their security aides.

In a previous interview, Councilor Nava said, “I do not allow anyone, including my security aides, to bring guns to my office. Even I do not bring my licensed guns to office because I respect the city hall protocol against the bringing of guns inside it.”

Security camera video footages would prove that the Delos Reyes brothers entered city hall unarmed, according to Nava.

“When policemen arrested them in my office, there were no bags, guns or grenades seized. Suddenly, at the police station where they were taken, the cops presented what they claimed were items confiscated from my men,” the councilor said.

He warned policemen they could be held legally liable./PN


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