By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Following a letter from Hinigaran Mayor Jose Nadie Arceo to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa seeking the immediate removal of Hinigaran Municipal Police chief, Police Senior Inspector Lawrence Bathan, the local law enforcement official was formally removed from his post, yesterday.
Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO) director, Police Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil, Jr., said Bathan’s removal was conducted per instructions by Police Regional Office-18 (PRO-18) director, Police Chief Superintendent Edmund Gonzales, but reiterated previous claims that there is no basis for the municipal police chief’s relief.
Bathan was replaced by Police Chief Inspector Jake Barilla, personally requested by the mayor.
Castil added Bathan has been ordered to appear in Malacañan Palace as his presence was requested by Press Secretary Jesus Dureza.
Last week, Arceo claimed there were threats to his life, following his public row with the municipal police chief, but clarified Bathan was not directly involved in the alleged threats.
The town mayor claimed Bathan had been “uncooperative” and made it difficult to combat illegal drugs.
According to Arceo, the report by the Hinigaran Barangay Drug and Abuse Council (BADAC) claiming the municipality was drug-free is false, as he believes druglord Jessie Ramos is still operating in the area.
He added, 90 percent of the town is still reportedly drug-affected and criticized municipal police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for allegedly ignoring his complaints./WDJ