MANILA, Philippines — Police Lt. Col. Neil Montaño, Calbayog City police chief, was relieved on Sunday along with nine others over the fatal shooting of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and a separate request to a local court for the names of lawyers representing members of “communist terrorist groups”.
Relief is not the same as dismissal from service.
Aquino and his aides were killed last Monday night by police officers whom witnesses say were in uniform but were wearing bonnets.
Police maintain that the mayor’s camp fired on them first, forcing them to fire back and eventually shoot them dead.
Meanwhile, Calbayog City police also made headlines earlier this weekend after an intelligence officer requested a local court for a list of lawyers representing “Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) personalities in court.” CTG is a government term for legal activist organizations.
Command responsibility: In a statement sent to reporters, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police, disclosed that Montaño was dismissed for command responsibility for the officers who participated in the shooting of the mayor and his bodyguards.
According to Section 6 of the PNP’s Chief of Police manual, which touches on the doctrine of command responsibility, “chiefs of Police shall also be held responsible for every breach of discipline, lapses in security, abuse of authority or violation of human rights or law committed by the men under them.”
Eleazar said that the dismissal was for the killing of the mayor as well the intelligence lapse, both of which have been condemned by human rights groups.
“Officers concerned are also ordered to refrain from making any comment on the case of Mayor Aquino, and wait instead for the final result of the investigation,” the PNP OIC also said in his statement.
Slap on the wrist?: Nine police non-commissioned officers of the station were also relieved and “were reassigned to Samar Provincial Police Office to undergo refresher seminar.”
Though the officers were transferred, national police leadership has neither acknowledged nor apologized for the officers’ alleged role in the killing of the local chief executive, which they referred to as an “unfortunate incident.”
“This reorganization is intended not only to improve the investigation and intelligence capacity of the Calabayog City Police Station in the light of the two incidents that happened but also to infuse new ideas and strategies on peace and order with the deployment of new police officers in the area,” Eleazar said.
“We are also continuously conducting the needs assessment for the Calbayog CPS to improve its investigation, intelligence and operational capabilities.”
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