Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is describing as unfortunate, the war of words between Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and acting Commissioner of Police James Philbert James over the state of lawlessness at the Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ church on the Heights of Guanapo in Arima. Persad-Bissessar made the statement during a news conference in the Parliament Building yesterday. It followed a meeting of top security officials, including National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Edmund Dillon at the same venue.
On Thursday, Ramlogan said Philbert must take blame for the looting which was taking place at the church. The church is the subject of an investigation by the Integrity Commission. He said Philbert must give an adequate explanation for failing to prevent the looting at the church over the past few weeks. Failing this, the Police Service Commission (PSC) must take action against him, the AG added. Hours later, Philbert hit back, accusing Ramlogan of "contempt, disdain, bias and animosity for the office of Commissioner of Police." Persad-Bissessar said the matter was discussed and "it's unfortunate–the words that have been back and forward–I think the matter is being handled and let's put that behind us and move on."
She said the security and safety of the national community was a more critical issue to be addressed. "That is our priority," she added. Asked specifically if the AG might have crossed the lines in his utterances, Persad-Bissessar said she was "not of that view." "Perhaps I would have said it in a different way, each person has a different manner of expressing themselves...I may have done it differently, but I am not of the view that he had overstepped," she said. She also hinted that Philbert may have to take some blame for the situation.
"One may also ask in terms of acting Commissioner of Police Philbert, his words as well...I think it is most unfortunate," she said. "I am saying it is unfortunate on both sides and we need to just move ahead (on) and get on with the people's business." In response to questions on whether the action by the Government to protect the site may have come too late, Persad-Bissessar said that was not the function of the Government to have done differently. "The advice being followed may not have been the best course in all the circumstances," she said. "That has been rectified and we trust that situation will not continue."