By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Task Force Kasanag (TFK) chairman John Chiong recently penned a letter to Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO) director, Police Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil, Jr., requesting Hinigaran municipal police chief, Police Senior Inspector Lawrence Bathan, be relieved of duty.
Chiong cited rising tensions between Bathan and Hinigaran Mayor Jose Nadie Arceo.
“I’m appealing for your understanding and compassion regarding the current situation in Hinigaran,” the TFK chairman wrote.
Chiong said once the municipal police chief is relieved, NOPPO can proceed with investigating Arceo of potential wrongdoing. He added, by prolonging the situation, it puts both town residents and NOPPO in a “bad light.”
Last week, Arceo claimed there have been threats to his life, following his public row with the town’s police chief, but clarified Bathan is not directly involved in the alleged threats.
The town mayor claimed Bathan has been “uncooperative,” which is making it difficult to combat illegal drugs.
According to Arceo, the report by the Hinigaran Barangay Drug and Abuse Council (BADAC) claiming the municipality is now drug-free is false, as he believes druglord Jessie Ramos is still operating in the area.
He claims 90 percent of the town is still drug-affected and criticized the municipal police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for allegedly ignoring his complaints.
However, Police Regional Office-18 (PRO-18) director, Police Chief Superintendent Edmund Gonzales, recently came to town police chief’s defense, saying, “Bathan is doing his job.”
The regional police director said police records show, under Bathan, the Hinigaran municipal police have recovered a total 24 grams of shabu, with an estimated street value of P400,000.
Castil also defended Bathan, saying he is satisfied with his performance./WDJ