IN BAD SHAPE The Iloilo City Police Office badly needs a major facelift what with the substandard wirings and holes in its sub-offices. (Photos by Tara Yap)
IN BAD SHAPE The Iloilo City Police Office badly needs a major facelift what with the substandard wirings and holes in its sub-offices. (Photos by Tara Yap)


PNP inspector laments shabby ICPO offices


By Francis Allan L. Angelo


LAW enforcers of Iloilo City are not safe even in their own backyard.


A member of the PNP general inspection team presently doing rounds on PNP field offices in Region 6 raised the hazardous situation of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) compound in General Luna Street, Iloilo City proper district.


The inspector, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the matter, is part of the group conducting the Annual General Inspection-Operational Readiness Security Inspection and Test Evaluation (AGI-ORSITE).


The AGI-ORSITE team from the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame tests and evaluates the preparedness and skills of police offices in carrying out their tasks.


The inspector, who is also a ranking police official, said the top problem of the ICPO is the structural stability and safety of its own headquarters.


“It’s a fire hazard. The floors are creaking and the roofs are leaking. We don’t know what will happen with that place. It might burst in fire because of its substandard structure,” the inspector said referring to the ICPO buildings.


The inspector particularly pointed out the Old Constabulary Building (OCB), which houses the Traffic Management and Engineering Unit (TMEU) in the second floor and the Crime Records Section (CRIS) in the ground area, as one wobbly structure in the compound. “When I stepped inside the building, the floor was making crazy noises, they creak, a sign that it is weak already. Repairs might not suffice. What it needs is rehabilitation,” he added.


TMEU personnel reached by The Daily Guardian affirmed the observations of the ORSITE inspector saying their office sometimes shake when they move around.


TDG photojournalist Tara Yap also noticed twisted electrical wirings which are potential fire hazards, and holes on the wooden floor and walls of the TMEU office. 


During heavy rains, ICPO personnel said they catch water leaking from the roof using plastic pails.


Aside from the TMEU and CRIS, the compound also houses the Iloilo City proper police station and ICPO administrative sections in the right portion of the OCB.


There is also an old house near a star apple tree which serves as sleeping quarters of ICPO personnel and another structure beside the OCB used by the Regional Mobile Group deployed in the city.


The Women and Children’s Concern Section, Iloilo City Jail and center for the mentally-challenged were constructed recently.


Citing the situation in other urban areas, the AGI-ORSITE inspector said other police offices strictly observe fire safety standards in their respective offices.

Pag hindi nasunod yun, tatamaan ang Bureau of Fire (Protection) at ang police mismo. It would be ironic that we are law enforcers but we cannot keep up with regulations,” he said.


Aside from the safety of the police officers occupying the compound, the inspector is also concerned with the comfort of ordinary people transacting business with ICPO offices.


“If we want good public service, the environment must be safe and comfortable to our clients,” he said


The ORSITE inspector said the sorry state of the ICPO headquarters will not only reflect on the PNP personnel and organization but also on the city government.


“In Guimaras, the municipal halls and police stations are in better conditions. We don’t want to criticize the city government or hurt the feelings of our officials. We just want to let everybody know the problem with the offices here because the national headquarters is willing to fund the rehabilitation provided the local government will donate the lot as its share in the project,” he said.


The inspector said they will incorporate in next year’s AGI-ORSITE the condition of police offices so they can keep up with safety standards.


The ICPO compound sits on a lot owned by the Loring family.


City Councilor Erwin “Tongtong” Plagata, committee on police matters chair, said the Lorings allowed the ICPO to use the property through a deed of usufruct.


Usufruct is the legal right to use and derive profit or benefit from property that belongs to another person, as long as the property is not damaged. In many legal usufruct systems of property, such as the traditional ejido system in Mexico, individuals or groups may only acquire the usufruct of the property, not legal land ownership.


“As long as the ICPO uses the lot, they can stay there. It would be better to check if the deed of usufruct allows development in the property such as improvement of buildings,” Plagata said.


Former PNP chief Arturo Lomibao had pledged P10 million for the ICPO rehabilitation provided the city government gives the lot to the ICPO.


But the deed of usufruct and uncertainty on whether the lot owners are willing to give the property to City Hall stalled the planned rehabilitation.


Plagata said the city government can enter into a land swap deal with the ICPO lot owners or the PNP can look for other locations.


“The usufruct is the reason why we implement piecemeal repairs at the ICPO. Camp Crame must also look for a possible location if the usufruct disallows major developments. But the city government is also doing its part to resolve this matter,” Plagata said.


Plagata also said he does not believe that the OCB cannot be touched because it is considered a heritage building.