BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Members of the police force of Pulupandan in Negros Occidental were relieved Saturday to prevent them from being influenced by politicians.
The officials were replaced by troopers from the province’s Public Safety Company, acting provincial police director Senior Superinyent Celestino Guara said Sunday.
Except for its newly installed officer-in-charge, Guara said the order to relieve the 20 policemen came from Camp Crame.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. had asked Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to order the relief. Roxas also recommended the filing of charges against Pulupandan Mayor Magdaleno Peña.
Last March 25, Pulupandan police chief Senior Inspector Edfel Balibadlan and two other officers were also relieved from their posts for allegedly escorting Peña, who challenged Jose Ma. Valencia, Marañon’s chief of staff, to a fistfight.
Balibadlan, PO3 Ronald Palacios and PO2 Lelanie Lagoting have been placed under technical arrest and were disarmed pending investigation of their acts.
Balibadlan was replaced by Senior Insp. Anthony Grande as OIC.
Guara said the relief of the entire Pulupandan police force was approved by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). He said relieved officers would swap assignments with the Public Safety Company troopers.
Marañon had asked Roxas to assign members of the Philippine Army, instead of the Philippine National Police, to assist the Comelec in the conduct of the May 13 elections in Pulupandan, Escalante City, and other election hotspots in Negros Occidental.
Pulupandan and Escalante were among the 13 towns and cities in the province placed under the election watchlist of the PNP and Comelec due to their history of election-related violent incidents, intense political rivalries and presence of armed men.
Peña, who is supporting the gubernatorial bid of his relative, Vice-Gov. Genaro Alvarez Jr., said he had not violated the Election Code or any other laws in his use of the local police.