Cebu News

Three men ‘paid’ P75T each for liberty: Rama wants 7 cops fired

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama wants the policemen who allegedly released three illegal drug suspects in exchange for cash dismissed from service.

“Dili gani ilabay, dismiss them…  A crime done anywhere is a crime against all and that is a crime against the PNP (Philippine National Police),” he told reporters yesterday.

Concerned over the report, he called officials of the Cebu City Police Office the other day.

“I had a command meeting with them and I wished that they will proceed with what I suggested to them. Paradigm shift has to be done along with the police involved,” he said.

The seven policemen, who were assigned with the CCPO-City Intelligence Branch, have been disarmed and relieved from their posts. 

Senior Superintendent Benjamin Santos, CCPO director, however, said the seven, who are under investigation, are still required to render service by joining beat patrols.

He, though, said that while he would “let the machinery work” or the investigation to take its due course, “we are also human”. He explained that he would not “tolerate” wrongdoings of his men but they must be also be given due process.

Aside from an administrative investigation, the seven policemen will be subjected to extensive background check to determine if they have lavish lifestyles.

 Superintendent Artemio Ricabo, CCPO deputy city director for administration, on the other hand, told a press conference that it is a matter of policy that no wrongdoings will be tolerated.

He said result of the ongoing investigation would be indorsed to the Police Regional Office-7 for the determination if the seven policemen have committed an administrative offense.

Ricabo said that if the seven are found guilty, it would be up to PRO-7 to determine the corresponding penalty to avoid suspicion that CCPO is protecting its own men.

The policemen are being accused of letting go three men who were supposedly arrested during an anti-illegal drug operation in Barangay Duljo-Fatima, Cebu City last Sunday along with the confiscation of several packs of suspected shabu. Their arrest and the seizure of the supposed illegal drugs, however, were not reflected in the police blotter.

Only one Lito Paculanang was jailed after yielding seven packs of suspected shabu during the operation.

Ricabo said one of the seven policemen would be thoroughly investigated after they received reports that Sunday’s “hulidap” was not the first time that he was involved in a similar modus operandi.

He encouraged the three men to surface and corroborate the allegation that they were made to pay P75,000 each in exchange for their liberty.

“Tulo ang nabuhian usa ra ang napriso, nibuto man tong transaction, mas maayo mopatim-aw sila kung tinuod ba ang transaction,” Ricabo said.

April last year, Superintendent Romeo Santander, the previous CIB chief, had expressed suspicion that someone from their group was betraying them by leaking to their targets information on their anti-illegal drug operations.

This was after cellular phones confiscated from suspects contained messages from someone giving them warning on an impending police operation in their area. 

Rama said that aside from investigation the allegation against the CIB policemen, Santos, who just assumed the CCPO director post, should lay out the anti-crime programs he intends to implement to maintain peace and order in the city.

“I am expecting a very clear program because that program, for whatever reason,… (he) has not been able to present it to me, not even to PCAC (Police Coordinating and Advisory Council),” the mayor said.

PCAC, whose members include law enforcement units in the city, advises City Hall on matters of security and peace and order.

“If he will do [well] then I will submit on making him a regular chief of police. Why not?,” Rama said of Santos.

Rama had been critical of Santos’ assignment as CCPO director, questioning the reshuffling of police chiefs during his administration of which he had less sway.

“With changing of cards here and there, removing of chief of police at whims, how can you have stability and direction and bring about certain moral foundation in the police force?” he asked.

He said it is time to “insist on constitutional change”, where the supervision of police has to be under the local government.

“Everything about the police should be handled by the mayor. It’s just like the police unit is another department and that is what we call as full decentralization,” said Rama.

Rama described the control over the police force by PNP national leadership in Manila as a “practically preposterous arrangement.”—/RHM (FREEMAN)

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