>> Sunday, December 20, 2009
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– For the nth time, Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca called on the Philippine National Police for the relief of Supt. Jimmy Rivera as provincial police director for his alleged arrogance, discourtesy and bias in dealing with contending political groups in the province.
The governor’s renewed call for Rivera’s relief came after the recent ransacking by some 40 suspected New People’s Army rebels of the police station at Divilacan town and last month’s killing of lawyer Michael Valdez, Isabela election supervisor.
Padaca initially sought Rivera’s relief with Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno and PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa four months ago amid the alleged rampant jueteng operations in the province and the police’s official’s alleged display of arrogance against civilian authority.
In a statement, Padaca said the present situation in Isabela warrants a change in the provincial police leadership and “a fresh start” for relations between the police and the provincial government, especially that this Comelec (Commission on Elections) issue has caught up with all of us.”
She was referring to a recent decision of the Comelec’s Second Division unseating her and declaring her rival, former governor Benjamin Dy, the real winner in the 2007 gubernatorial race.
Rivera though refused to comment on the governor’s renewed call for his relief, saying, “I already have my hands full regarding police matters in the province to give any more attention to the issue.”
Earlier, Rivera, who traces his roots in Isabela, had denied the reported existence of illegal gambling in the province, one of Padaca’s reasons in calling for his relief.
“I just want to continue my work as police director here to the best of my ability. But I will not stay for a minute longer if I already have my marching orders,” he said.
Rivera, who was installed as Isabela police director last February, said the police organization is not personality-oriented and will always remain neutral on the ongoing local political situation.
“We will accomplish whatever higher authorities tell us to do, including whatever the Comelec decision will be. We will implement all lawful orders,” he said.
However, Padaca assailed Rivera’s refusal “to try even for just a minute to communicate with me as the highest civilian authority of the province and his biased dealings with local officials identified with me.”
Padaca said Rivera “showed not just to me but to many in Isabela that it was not peace that he came to bring but disorder.”
“In all my experiences dealing with police and military officers throughout my 14 years as a broadcast journalist and five years as governor, I have never seen such arrogance (as Colonel Rivera has shown). Whether they were sincere or not, most of the officers I’ve met conducted themselves with full respect to their uniform,” said Padaca in her letter to Puno and Verzosa. -- CL