Bangsamoro Region

BARMM’s ‘crown jewel’ gets new city police chief

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – This city, touted as “crown jewel” of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM’s), is now assigned with a new police director designated from the top echelon of the Philippine National Police (PNP) anti-cybercrimes unit in Cordillera region.

Police Col. Rommel L. Javier, replaced effective Jan. 27 P/Col. Richard R. Fiesta, who took over the city police office leadership in September 2020, it was learned.

Col. Manalad, the first female city police director ever assigned here, is now serving as deputy director of the PNP’s WCPC-DIDM, according to Camp Crame’s latest list of key directorial staff.       

Like his immediate predecessor, Col. Javier would be serving on acting capacity as reportedly indicated in an order signed by Maj. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson of the PNP’s Directorate for Personnel and Records Management.

Specific reasons behind the replacement of Col. Fiesta, who served this city for barely five months, were unknown.

In the recent four-day celebration of the BARMM’s 2nd founding anniversary, some quarters including media workers and regional officials howled against an incident about some city police elements caught in photos while uprooting or removing commemorative Bangsamoro flags along sidewalks of Sinsuat Avenue here in the morning of Jan. 18, the kickoff day of festivities.

Some of the photos taken by mobile phone cameras were posted in Facebook pages and went viral briefly.

On Jan. 19, BARMM interim Parliament Member Jose Lorena told the Philippine Muslim Today online news at the sidelight of a press conference here that he would officially protest the incident he deemed as a blatant act of “police partiality” in local politics.

Lorena, a lawyer, said higher authorities should not let the incident pass without punitive action, hinting his intent to file a resolution calling for a corresponding investigation.  

Police elements should be impartial in the raging legal tussle between the BARMM leadership and the city hall over the question of supervision authority accruing from the including of this city in the territory of regional autonomy.

BARMM, which replaced the five-province and two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), officially covers also this city and 63 barangays in North Cotabato after resident-voters opted for inclusion in plebiscites on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6, 2019.

But City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, a lawyer also had filed a petition before Supreme Court in protest of her turf’s inclusion in BARMM due to alleged irregularities in political exercises.

Supporters and key leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), some of them appointed in the top BARMM posts, had admitted exerting focal efforts here during the campaign period for the 2019 plebiscites, saying the city is a “crown jewel” of Bangsamoro struggle that led to the creation of the current autonomous governance.  

North Cotabato provincial officials turned over to BARMM governance their supervision authority over the 63 villages on Nov. 20, 2019. The city hall did not follow suit.

National Officials alongside DILG Secretary Eduardo Año formally turned over to the BARMM government, notably the Ministry of Interior and Local Government, the supervision authority over the city on Dec. 15, 2020. But no city key officials attended the ceremony, citing Mayor Sayadi’s pending petition still undecided by the High Tribunal.

Irritants have once peaked between the regional and city leaderships over disagreements concerning observance of COVID-19 preventive protocols during the early weeks of the pandemic. (AGM)

Categories: Bangsamoro Region

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