Police caught in the middle in contested hospital lot

By Jennifer P. Rendon

The San Joaquin Municipal Police Station in Iloilo faces allegations of partiality amid a contentious dispute over the San Joaquin Mother and Child Hospital lot.

Rep. Janette Garin of Iloilo’s 1st District has criticized the local police for their alleged inaction when the Getuya family took control of the hospital located at Sitio Inawangan, Purok 5, San Joaquin.

The Getuya family, claiming the hospital is abandoned, barricaded the entrance and posted “no trespassing” signs.

Vice Mayor Marvigrace Getuya-Lago argued that the deed of donation for the lot included a clause for its return if the hospital ceased to serve its purpose.

Lago noted that the hospital has not been operational for several years.

Garin disputed these claims and condemned the police for not securing the hospital against the takeover.

She quoted Vilma Getuya, the vice mayor’s mother, who allegedly claimed to “take care of the police,” suggesting potential undue influence.

“It’s her personal discretion if she gives gifts or food to the police, but that does not justify taking over the hospital without any legitimate reason,” Garin asserted.

In response, Colonel Bayani Razalan, Iloilo police provincial director, stated he had not received any formal complaint from Garin or the local government.

However, he instructed Captain Felix Perez to submit an explanation.

Perez confirmed receiving the request and mentioned that the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Unit would investigate the police’s actions.

Razalan emphasized that police are deployed to maintain peace and order and should not take sides in land disputes.

“There was an area security. But given that the issue involved some legalities, we couldn’t meddle in it. As a matter of procedure, police are barred from meddling in conflicts such as land dispute. Instead, police deployment is done to maintain peace and order in the area,” he added.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan plans to investigate the alleged attempt to take over the government hospital.

Mayor Ninfa Garin and other municipal officials were reportedly taken aback by the blockade, which included barbed wires and a “No Entrance Private Property” banner.

The Garins accused Perez of “inaction and seeming abandonment of duty.”

Board Member Joann Gerninanda condemned the alleged collusion between private individuals and local officials, which led to the blockade, describing it as a “well-laid plan” that police failed to prevent.

The ongoing investigation aims to clarify the many questions surrounding this contentious issue.