Año: Some local officials will soon regain police powers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — Some of the 186 local chief executives who were stripped of police powers will again be allowed to exercise some supervision over the police, Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año revealed Friday.

"One of these days may mga ibabalik din tayo diyan (we will give back some of them)," Año told CNN Philippines, without naming names of officials who will get back their power to supervise the police.

"Some are writing us and trying to clear their names and restore their deputation," Año said. He added the list is continuously being validated.

Asked when some of the local officials can gain their police powers back, Año said, "I cannot promise because it still has to be cleared with the President."

The Local Government Code of 1991 grants governors and mayors "operational supervision and control," over the police. This means they have the "power to direct, superintend, oversee and inspect the police units and forces." Governors even get to choose the provincial police director, while mayors get to select their town or city's top cop.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has yet to release the list of local officials whose powers were withdrawn, but Año said eight of them are governors, while the remaining 178 are all city and municipal mayors.

More than half of the mayors are from Mindanao, particularly the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Año said. There are 33 cities and 422 municipalities in the island region which remains under martial law since the war between government forces and terrorists broke out in Marawi City, capital of Lanao del Sur in May 2017.

Not a 'kill list'

Año said the local officials deprived of police powers were either reported to be involved in drugs, linked to private armed groups, or are facing other pending cases.

The list included slain Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City in Batangas province, who was shot dead during flag-raising rites on July 2. Halili's police powers were withdrawn late 2017 because of his alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. His family claims the administration may have been fed with wrong information.

Meanwhile, Año clarified that slain Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Trias, Nueva Ecija, and Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan of Trece Martires City, Cavite were not among those withdrawn of deputation.

"That's why it is wrong to conclude na ang nagaganap na pagpatay sa mayors ay may kinalaman sa drugs o sa listahan," Año said, adding that the police are looking into different possible motives for the killings.

Ten mayors and five vice mayors had been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his drug war in July 2016, according to the tally of CNN Philippines' Research Team. Of the 15 slain officials, five were linked to illegal drugs.

Local government officials earlier asked law enforcement agencies to allow them to participate in vetting the government's list of personalities linked to illegal drug trafficking.

Malacañang said the request is being considered by the DILG and the Philippine National Police, as the government stands by the veracity of its narco list.