By this time, retired Brigadier General John Bulalacao and the Police Regional Office-6 may have heard the public outcry very clearly – apologize to Mr. Baltazar Saldo if only to ease the pain and humiliation he suffered at Camp Delgado on June 24, 2019 when he was paraded like a condemned criminal.
Here is what we know so far: Saldo, a native of Dumalag in Capiz province, was arrested on the basis of four arrest warrants for murder and frustrated murder pending in Negros Island courts.
But a closer look at the warrants show that the suspect or actual subject is Virgilio Paragan alias Hasssan, believed to be a former rebel commander in Negros Island.
According to the PRO-6 press release which Bulalacao himself read on Monday, a “witness” claimed that Saldo and Paragan are one and the same person. Ergo, the PNP in Western Visayas with help from the Army arrested Saldo on the basis of the claims of this so-called witness.
But when Saldo was brought to Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental where two of the four arrest warrants was issued, the families of the aggrieved parties and Paragan’s kin basically exonerated Saldo. It was backed up by the findings of the Kabankalan City prosecutor that the statement of the PRO-6 witness is flimsy and will not hold water.
Thus, Saldo was released but his reputation already in tatters.
Almost if not all reactions expressed via Facebook on Saldo’s case berated, castigated, and heckled Bulalacao and company for bungling what would have been a crowning glory of his retirement today. Also, almost all dared the police to publicly apologize to Saldo via a press conference. They also heckled the police for poor intelligence and investigation work despite the billions in taxpayers’ money allocated to their intelligence fund.
Bulalacao can still ease his pained and tainted reputation by apologizing within this day.
But as the song goes, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.”
Up until the last gasps of his administration, outgoing Iloilo governor Arthur Defensor Sr. proved one thing we already know – he is a traditional politician.
Why? He lobbied for the retention of Police Colonel Marlon Tayaba as Iloilo provincial police director, which goes against the well-established and time-honored policy on the 2-year maximum tenure of police officials in a certain area of jurisdiction like Iloilo province.
This policy is actually prescribed by Memorandum Circular No. 2001-010 issued by National Police Commission (Napolcom) on August 22, 2001. It specifically stipulates that any police officer assigned or reassigned to any key in the PNP shall have a maximum tour of duty of two years.
What could be the rationale for this 2-year term?
Familiarity breeds contempt, especially if it is established with criminal elements. An overstaying officer will most likely become comfortable in his area of assignment and the people within, including drug peddlers, illegal gambling operators, among others.
Also, regular movement of officers within the PNP is part of the professionalization of the service. The rotation gives other officers the chance to serve in various capabilities and areas. It will also benefit other provinces and cities who desire for performing officers.
Defensor’s move to extend Tayaba is not just contrary to established rules and tradition, it also goes against good and common sense. This move is a classic act of a traditional politician who dispenses favors and largesse to his or her favorites and vassals.
If Tayaba is a good and performing officer against drugs, illegal gambling, etc., then our higher sense of justice should prompt us that he should be assigned to other areas that need his expertise.
And we don’t think that Col. Tayaba will ever underestimate his successor in building on and continuing what he started in Iloilo province.
The PNP has a lot of good officers, and they also deserve to lead and serve Iloilo. Iloilo and the PNP are bigger than Defensor and Tayaba.