By Calvin Cordova
CEBU CITY—Mayor Tomas Osmeña on Tuesday fired away at the city police who he accused of harassing his political allies.
“It’s never been like this before. My son asked me, ‘was it this bad during the time of Marcos?’ I said, it’s worse. This is the first time that police is being used for politics,” Osmeña said at a media forum.
“Even (President Rodrigo) Duterte, when he was mayor in Davao, he ran after criminals but he never used policemen for politics, that’s why I’m very disappointed,” he continued.
Osmeña was infuriated after a car showroom owned by Association of Barangay Councils President Franklin Ong, his ally, was strafed by armed men in a white van Friday night.
On Saturday morning, some of his supporters in Barangay Sudlon were assaulted by armed men he suspected to be policemen.
Past midnight last Monday, the vehicle owned by the brother of a barangay captain allied with Osmeña was stoned.
“Now they resort into stoning instead of shooting. I hope it’s because they running out of ammunition,” Osmeña said.
Osmeña has also questioned the setting up of checkpoints near his house in Barangay Guadalupe and in areas where BOPK members held their campaign sorties.
Osmeña described the series of incidents as an undeclared martial law.
“Actually, for all intents and purposes, we have martial law. Only it’s not declared. That’s the only difference. They can intercept you, they can arrest you, they can jail you, they can even shoot you as in the case of several tanods including a tanod’s wife. They can beat you up without any search warrant. You can be a victim of worst case of police brutality ever experienced by the people of Cebu,” he said.
Osmeña again accused Brig. General Debold Sinas, head of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, and Col. Royina Garma, Cebu City police chief, of masterminding the harassment.
“Actually, our policemen are okay. It’s Sinas and Garma who are responsible and I think it has something to do with money, gambling,” said Osmeña.
Osmeña has accused Garma of financing illegal numbers game called “swertres” in the city.
During last Sunday’s campaign rally of Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan, Osmeña presented what he claimed were documents showing Garma to have been receiving P1 million a week as payola from illegal gambling operators.
“I suspect swertres in Cebu is now financed by Garma. The report I got is what happened in Bohol when she was head of CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) she was, making P1 million a week. My estimate in Cebu City is that she is making as much as P800,000 a day,” said Osmeña.
Garma has denied Osmeña’s accusations, saying the allegations are rehashed.
“Of course she will deny. She said that was a long time ago. But where are the findings or any report that she was absolved. Please produce that clearance,” said Osmeña.
Osmeña described Garma as “the most influential policeman in the Philippines.”
“She is very influential, even generals take orders from her and this puzzles me,” the mayor said.
Osmeña asked his supporters not to succumb to pressure even as he expects a long-drawn electoral battle.