Manila; A total of 186 elected local executives have been removed of their authority to supervise the police force in their locality due to their links to drugs or terrorism, the interior department said.

According to Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, of the 186 local chief executives (LCEs) who were stripped of their authority over the police, eight are governors and 178 are city or municipal mayors.

The interior secretary clarified that the LCEs were stripped of their police powers due to their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade, corruption, failure to stop acts of terrorism, or for having provided various forms of support to terrorist groups.

Under the Section 52 of the law creating the Philippine National Police, Republic Act No. 6975, “the President may, upon consultation with the provincial governor and congressman concerned, suspend the power of operational supervision and control of any local executive over police units …”

These certain conditions include, among others, abuse of authority; “Providing material support to criminal elements; or engaging in acts inimical to national security or which negate the effectiveness of the peace and order campaign.”

“By offering the public mechanisms to report complaints, such as the Hotline 8888 and the Office of the President itself, we were able to investigate and file cases against local officials alleged to be abusive or not performing their job in accordance with their mandate,” Ano said.

The move by DILG to remove the authority of the LCEs over the police had been initiated after President Rodrigo Duterte taking office, during the second half of 2016.

The President, who served as mayor of Davao City for several terms, had said that a large part of corruption taking place in the country were perpetrated by LCEs.

Duterte’s action to strip the 183 LCE’s authority has strategically been effected months ahead of the May 2019 mid-term elections where Filipinos will choose their next 12 senators, congressmen, governors, mayors and members of the provincial and municipal councils.

Last Thursday, National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde blamed the coming local elections for the spate of killings victimising middle-level elected officials.

Five local elected officials had been to be killed within a period of 10 days prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to convene the Security, Justice and Peace Cabinet Cluster at the palace.

On Wednesday, Vice Mayor Alrashid Mohammad Alih of Sapa-Sapa town in Tawi-Tawi, was shot by an assassin in Zamboanga City.

On July 7, Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan of the municipality of Trece Martires and his driver were killed in an ambush in Cavite. On the same day, Councilor Nasiff Basil of Kapatagan town in Lanao del Sur in Southern Philippines was killed while his companions were wounded.

On July 3, Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio municipality in Nueva Ecija was killed by assailants, and a day later Tanauan Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili was shot from a distance by a concealed assassin.