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Ousted N. Vizcaya police director sues PNP chief

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The ousted provincial police director of this province has sued his Police Dir. Gen. Avelino Razon Jr. and his regional director for alleged abuse they committed in relieving him from his post here three weeks ago.

Senior Supt. Segundo Duran has joined Gov. Luisa Cuaresma in a petition asking the regional trial court here to nullify his relief order, saying the PNP brass abused their authority when they removed him from his post without consulting the governor.

“The order issued by respondents in relieving Duran is a patent, gross and crystalline grave abuse of discretion…which is a clear contravention of the well-enshrined prerogative of (Cuaresma) as governor of the province,” the amended petition read in part.

The petition was referring to Razon, and Chief Supt. Ameto Tolentino, police director for Cagayan Valley region, who ordered Duran’s removal as provincial director.

On Monday, lawyers for Cuaresma and Duran again asked the court to block the enforcement of the police official’s relief order dated Jan. 16, through a seven-page amendment to a complaint earlier filed by Cuaresma.

In the original petition, the governor sought the court’s intervention to block the relief of Duran, saying she was not consulted on the matter.

Citing a memorandum circular issued by the National Police Commission in 2001 which states that “the Chief PNP, by himself or through the Regional Director himself may relieve for a cause a provincial director…upon consultation with the provincial governor.”

The court, however, on Tuesday denied the plea for a second temporary restraining order.

“The alleged new issues do not, to the mind of the court, present sufficient issued that would show a clear legal right of the petitioners to the issuance of a restraining order. The theory presented by the amended petition is similar to that which was brought to this court via the original petition,” said Judge Rogelio Corpuz in his order.

In a phone interview, Tolentino said they were ready to face the charges.

He maintained that Duran’s relief was for a cause, and that consulting the governor on the matter is merely discretionary on the part of the PNP.

“That same day, I went to the governor to personally deliver her copy of the relief order, and told her the reasons why Duran was being relieved. Their claim that Duran’s relief without a cause is untrue; that does not happen and it can never happen in the PNP,” he said.

He, however, declined to reveal in the meantime the reasons for Duran’s removal from office.

“It would not have come to this if only (Duran) obeyed the order. As much as possible, we did not want to make a controversy out of it, but now that he seems to be fighting it out, in due time we will be constrained to make public why he was relieved,” he said.

PNP sources said possible reasons could be the operation of illegal numbers game in the province, and the supposed disgruntlement of a number of police officers over the manner by which Duran managed the province’s police force.

Tuesday’s denial of the plea for a second TRO is the third setback for Cuaresma, whose petition, after having been granted a 72-hour TRO on Jan. 16., failed to have it extended for 20 days. Then, a subsequent motion for reconsideration was likewise denied by the court.

In denying Cuaresma’s motion, the court debunked her contention that the governor’s power granted by law to appoint a provincial police director requires that she must be consulted prior to the relief of the police official.

Quoting the law, the court said that although governors and mayors are granted the power to select the police chief from at least three candidates, the power to transfer, reassign or detail PNP personnel is a “command prerogative”.

“An incumbent provincial director may be removed, transferred or re-assigned without the approval of the governor. While prior consultation with the governor in such personnel action is desirable and suggested to enhance mutual harmony and coordination, such consultation is not mandatory but mere discretionary,” it said.

Police sources, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Duran was already willing to leave the province, but the lady governor would not let him go.

“Being a good soldier, he really wants to obey orders, but he cannot say no to the governor who wants him to stay,” the source said.

Duran could not be reached for comment on Thursday, as he was reportedly in Metro Manila. But his counsel, lawyer Angelito Baclig, said they were readying another motion for reconsideration.

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