In our view he has been a singular failure in dealing with the crime crisis that has engulfed this country.
With respect to the mysterious Guanapo church his flimsy excuse that he could do nothing because he did not know to whom the church belonged was absolute rubbish. The construction site of the church, as every citizen knows, is the scene of a very serious investigation which could likely turn out to be misappropriation of public funds or some sort of misbehaviour in public office.
When the construction of the large Guanapo church was exposed it was with some shock that the public heard of the involvement of the then Prime Minister Mr Patrick Manning, through his association with the alleged owner, a woman named as his spiritual adviser, one Juliana Pena who to this day cannot be found apparently not even by Interpol.
The church, we learned, was being constructed on State land approved by the Manning Cabinet. Further, the construction was undertaken by the Shanghai Construction Group which had been brought to Trinidad on a government to government arrangement. The question then was how was Ms Pena so lucky to get this Chinese construction company to build a $30 million private church.
The exposure and report made to the Integrity Commission to investigate, led to stoppage of the work and the massive construction was abandoned, by both the construction company and the alleged owner. It also led to the looting of materials from the site valued at several million dollars.
Quite properly Attorney General Anand Ramlogan took the correct route and called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to call on the Commissioner of Police to put a stop to the lawlessness. But what did Mr Philbert do? He fiddled while Guanapo crumbled. One can therefore understand the anger of the Attorney General on Thursday with the way the physical Guanapo construction site had been contaminated beyond repair. The question is why was Mr Philbert not doing what he was supposed to do? And now when the AG expresses his disgust and frustration, Mr Philbert responds by accusing the Attorney General of contempt. Contempt of whom?
We have to say the only contempt was the fiddling by Mr Philbert under whose watch crime has escalated.
To whom does the Commissioner of Police in this country account? Is he a law unto himself? Why was the muscle shown yesterday to the Attorney General by Mr Philbert not used against the criminal elements who had been terrifying the law abiding citizens of this country?
While we do not support any control by the political directorate of the Commissioner of Police (as has been the case in the not too distant past), we equally do not accept that any Commissioner of Police should be a law unto himself. Like any public officer he is subject to criticism particularly when he fails to act.
We too would like to see a local Commissioner of Police but present circumstances do not give us the luxury of time. The people of this country have one concern and that is to be free of fear of the criminals.