BAD PR IS STILL PR: It’s okay to be unpopular – Vilela

By: Jennifer P. Rendon

HE shouts at his subordinates. He even punched them, kicked them, or made them do strenuous physical exercises when they commit lapses.

He did not even have second thoughts when he raised his voice at a priest during the commemoration of All Souls’ Day.

If these make him unpopular, Police Colonel Roland Vilela, Iloilo police chief, said he doesn’t mind at all.

“I don’t come here and expect to be loved. I’m here to do my work and not seek love,” he said on Tuesday after some sectors threw brickbats at him for being “harsh” to a man of the cloth.

The incident happened on Nov. 1 when Vilela made rounds in several cemeteries all over the province.

He was especially concerned with how the security and traffic flow are managed in cemeteries.

“The rule should apply to everybody – if it’s only unloading and loading area, that should be followed by all,” he said.

In two towns in the third district of Iloilo, Vilela said police allowed vehicles of priests to park near the cemetery’s entrance.

In one town, Vilela instructed policemen to help the priest with his belongings and to order the vehicle to park at a designated area.

But in the other town, he allegedly raised his voice and ordered the priest’s parked vehicle to move out.

“I really did that. My point is, the law should be applied to everybody,” he said.



But coming at odds with a priest is more than just implementing a rule.

Vilela said it was also his way to get the attention of the religious sector.

In the past, he repeatedly said that the problem of rising suicide cases is a societal concern that needs to be addressed by several sector.

“I was waiting for the Church to act on it. I was hoping that they would also do their part to respond to this concern,” he said.

Since January until October, 2019, Iloilo province recorded 70 suicide incidents.

“I hope na ‘yung galit nila sa akin would be channelled in addressing problems of depression and mental health, especially among our young people. And I challenge them to do their part,” he said.

Meanwhile, with his penchant of getting “physical” and verbally blunt in dealing with “mediocre” subordinates, Vilela said being unpopular is something that he would gladly embrace.

“It’s public service. Nothing personal,” he said.