By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Task Force Kasanag (TFK) chairman John Chiong said he expects tensions in Hinigaran to ease following the removal of Police Senior Inspector Lawrence Bathan as municipal police chief, which was recently ordered by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, in response to a request made by Mayor Jose Nadie Arceo.
In a media statement yesterday, Chiong said the move will bring a “more harmonious” relationship between town officials and the police force.
Bathan was replaced by Police Chief Inspector Jake Barilla, who was personally requested by the mayor.
“Cooperation between the LGU (local government unit) and the police is a major factor in the fight against crime and corruption,” Chiong explained.
The TFK chairman also commended the PNP chief for taking “swift action” on the matter.
The task force had previously entered the conflict after the group penned a letter to Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO) director, Police Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil, Jr., requesting Bathan be relieved from his post, citing rising tensions in the municipality.
In the letter, Chiong noted, by prolonging the situation, it puts both town residents and NOPPO in a “bad light.”
Castil, meanwhile, asserted 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.
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./WDJ