MANILA, Philippines - The National Police Commission (Napolcom) has stripped Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte of authority over the local police for allegedly refusing to cooperate in the probe of a shooting incident that left four small-scale miners dead in Barangay Gata, Caramoan town last March 22.
The Napolcom, in an order dated June 9, said Villafuerte’s “unwarranted refusal” to cooperate in the police investigation, his “evident” coddling of individuals carrying high-powered firearms, and his “deliberate refusal” to provide information to the police, are “valid and justifiable grounds for the withdrawal of his deputation as (the commission’s) agent or representative.”
The four small-scale miners were allegedly killed by members of Sagip Kalikasan Task Force, which Villafuerte’s father, former governor Luis Raymond Villafuerte, formed in September 2004.
The task force is tasked to monitor quarrying activities, collect fees and taxes through checkpoints in strategic locations, and file appropriate legal actions against illegal quarrying operators.
The task force, which is under the governor’s office, taps members of the provincial civilian security unit.
Napolcom took note that during the elder Villafuerte’s term, numerous abuses allegedly committed in checkpoints manned by task force members had been reported to the local police.
Two days after the shooting in Caramoan, the Napolcom said Senior Superintendent Arnold Albis, Camarines Sur police director, wrote the young Villafuerte requesting vital documents that would help the probe, including the task force’s authority to conduct checkpoints and those involved in these activities.
A day after the shooting though, Villafuerte, supposedly without any formal investigation, cleared the task force, the civilian security unit and provincial guards by “making a gratuitous statement that these personnel have nothing to do” with the incident, the Napolcom said.