SECOND CHANCE Vilela: Overcoming a colorful past, starting out with a clean slate

By: Jennifer P. Rendon

THE possible next chief of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) may have had colorful exploits, especially in his raging 30s, but these should not define him or his career in the police service.

This is Colonel Roland Vilela’s justification amid misgivings on his appointment as IPPO director.

In a telephone interview, Vilela said he was surprised that his personal life was the talk of the town following reports that he was tapped to head the Iloilo police force.

“What happened in the past was away-pamilya (family feud),” he said in a mixed of English and Hiligaynon.

The 46-year old Vilela is fluent in Hiligaynon as his mother is from Sapi-an, Capiz.

While there were complaints against him, none ever reached the courts, he said.

“It’s not true. It was just a motherhood statement,” Vilela said, referring to online reports of his alleged exploits.



A quick search in the web revealed that Vilela is the “estranged” husband of another prominent PNP officer – Colonel Royina Garma, the first female chief of Cebu City Police Office.

Garma was chosen to head Cebu at the height of several killings in the city. She had a rocky relationship with former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, but she has the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte.

On June 24, Duterte announced Garma’s appointment as general manager at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), an agency rocked by corruption allegations.

In 2005, Vilela was tagged in an alleged sex scandal in Davao City.

Vilela, then a police Major and head of Davao City police’s anti-vice unit, was accused of raping a 17-year-old commercial sex worker.

The girl allegedly sought the police’s help to take legal actions against her aunt for “pimping” her out.

But instead of helping the girl, Vilela allegedly brought her to a hotel where the purported rape happened.

In an interview with, Garma acknowledged that Vilela may have taken advantage of the teenager.

The incident was a virtual slap on Garma’s face since she was assigned to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) that advocated for the protection for women and children, among others.

Despite the controversy, Garma stood by Vilela and even asked then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte not to banish her husband from Davao Region.

The final straw that broke their marriage was in 2007 when a purported sex video of Vilela and his paramour went public.

An online report posted on indicated that Vilela was dismissed from the service by PNP Internal Affairs Service for grave misconduct because of the alleged sex video.

The report also said that Garma also charged Vilela of robbery, physical injuries, and bigamy.

But it appears that Vilela has a knack for dodging controversy and bad luck as he remains in active service and was even appointed to key positions before being picked by Defensor Jr. to head the IPPO.



Vilela said none of the cases against him were pursued because these were mere accusations. He did not elaborate.

While he confirmed the nullification of his marriage with Garma, Vilela said they remain in good terms.

“We’re friends. We talked a few days back,” he added.

He said both of them are strong-willed individuals, thus they often clash.

But as time passed by, they have moved on and are now able to talk as friends and colleagues.

Vilela married another woman last year.



In 2007, Vilela was given a conditional permit to take the Bar exams.

But reports indicated that Garma, who was not in good terms with Vilela with that time, went to the Supreme Court and filed a protest against his taking the exam.

There were reports that he was accused of violating Republic Act 9262 (Violence Against Women and Their Children Act).

The result of Vilela’s exam was never released but there were rumors he landed on the eight spot of the Bar exam.

Vilela said he was disappointed and deeply affected by what happened that he went AWOL (absent without official leave).

“But I was able to settle and fix the AWOL case,” he said.

Vilela said it’s pointless to bring up his personal life as the complaints against him never prospered.

For two consecutive years now, Vilela was cited as the best police commissioned officer (PCO) during the Police Service Anniversary.

He first got the award at the PNP Civil Security Group last year and he will be feted with the same award at the regional level as chief of the Regional Comptrollership Division in Cagayan Valley region.

Currently, Vilela is schooling for a PD (provincial director) course at the PNP National Headquarters in Camp Crame.

“And let me clarify, I don’t have any orders yet. I’m slated to take over IPPO on September 1,” he said.

Amid the controversy and anticipation of his assumption, Vilela asked that he be given a chance to prove his worth.