The Commission on Elections (Comelec) called for better coordination among law enforcement agencies in Negros Oriental to avoid possible “misencounters” between friendly forces as the campaign period for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) draws near.
Comelec issued the call following the arrest of a high-profile suspect in Negros Oriental’s Basay town, by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on October 12. It was not reported immediately to the Comelec.
The Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) and the Philippine Army in Negros Oriental also did not know of the arrest of the suspect, the No. 2 most wanted in Central Visayas and an alleged hitman in the murder of a provincial board member four years ago, a Comelec official said.
Lawyer Eliseo Labaria, acting provincial election supervisor of Negros Oriental, confirmed to the Philippine News Agency that his office received a copy of the spot report only on Sunday, October 15.
“We will be discussing this matter during the Central Visayas Regional Joint Peace Security Coordinating Center [RJPSCC] on Wednesday, [October 18], to ensure better coordination, although I believe that this was just an oversight as not all law enforcement agencies have understood yet the meaning of Negros Oriental being placed under Comelec control,” he said.
Labaria added that the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other agencies, such as the Philippine Coast Guard, were already previously informed that they have to provide information to the Comelec on matters regarding security and other concerns.
Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, regional election director for Central Visayas, said that it is imperative for the poll body to be updated on security concerns, but “we have to give it to the CIDG to arrest this hitman before election day as it is one less worry.”
“We will thresh this out during the final RJPSCC meeting because in the absence of coordination, there could be a misencounter, what with the numerous police and military forces already in Negros Oriental. All we need is just information after the fact,” he said.
The report forwarded to the Comelec in Negros Oriental identified the arrested suspect as Rolando Nava Pinili, 32 years old, a farmer-resident of Purok 3 in Barangay Nilantayan’s Sitio Balangbang.
He was arrested at his residence by virtue of a warrant in relation to the murder of Board Member Miguel Dungog, issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 24 in Dumaguete City on October 4.
The report further said that aside from Pinili, the CIDG had filed complaints against ousted Negros Oriental congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr., a certain “Hannah Mae,” Richard Cuadra, Jasper Tanasan, and Alex Mayagma for the murder of Dungog, Lester (alias Tom-tom Bato) and Pacito Libron in 2019.
Mayagma was killed in a police operation earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Lt. Stephen Polinar, Police Community Affairs and Development Unit assistant chief and spokesperson of NOPPO, said there was no prior coordination with the Basay Police Station.
Comelec officials were surprised why the NOPPO did not include the incident in the final coordinating conference of the Provincial JPSCC on October 13. (PNA)