Alagar: Armilla stays as Oro cop chief

By JIGGER JERUSALEM, Correspondent

CAMP Alagar yesterday cold-shouldered the justice department’s call to slap city police director Noel Armilla with preventive suspension and relief orders for allegedly attempting to bungle the investigation into the March 5 shooting of broadcaster Nilo Labares.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez’s request will remain just that a mere request, said regional police director Chief Supt. Danilo Empedrad.

Empedrad said an investigation is still ongoing and he could not just order Senior Supt. Armilla suspended until the investigation results are in.

Gonzalez, in two letters to PNP Director General Jesus Versoza, detailed how Armilla and some officers under the city police director allegedly tried to make a witness, army S/Sgt. Ronnel Bagares, back off from the investigation. The attempts were allegedly made on separate occasions.

Armilla told this paper yesterday that he was leaving matters in the hands of his superiors.

‘‘I will just follow orders,’’ said Armilla.

He also said he has submitted an affidavit to answer accusations that he was involved in an alleged cover-up attempt.

Empedrad said the investigation results would be sent to Versoza within this week.

Until then, said Empedrad, Armilla would remain as chief of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo).

The region’s police chief said there was no order from Versoza to suspend and transfer Armilla or any officer serving in Cocpo. He said Versoza could opt to issue the order based on Gonzalez’s request.

Empedrad also said an order to suspend and relieve Armilla could not be based on the statements of one person alone in this case, Bagares’s.

“We’re also verifying with other government agencies,” Empedrad said.

He said the National Police also follows a process before it slaps its members with suspension orders. This process, according to Empedrad, include a pre-charge investigation and the summary proceedings.

“Suspending a police officer is not instant,” Empedrad said. “He has to undergo due process.”


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