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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) and various fraternities in Iloilo City sued for peace through a tree planting activity in San Joaquin, Iloilo Sunday.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, said the activity is designed to promote camaraderie and goodwill among police officers and various fraternities that are sometimes involved in bloody rumbles.

Around 60 police officers and members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT), Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Alpha Kappa Rho (AKRHO) and Scout Royale Brotherhood (SRB) Fraternities went to Brgy. Bolobogo, a village 20 kilometers from San Joaquin.

The tree planting was organized by the ICPO’s Police Community Relations Section. A total of 60 mahogany seedlings were planted in a hilly portion of the barangay.

The participants then ate lunch a la “boodle fight,” a military style of eating with bare hands food placed on a long table covered with banana leaves.

The tree planting activity is the second project initiated by the ICPO involving different fraternities in Iloilo City.  The first one was conducted last July 2009 involving the same fraternities. 

“This endeavor aims to restore our natural resources and to organize our fraternities and to channel their efforts into more developmental and wholesome activities that will promote solidarity, camaraderie and enhance better interrelationships between and among fraternities,” Mongcal said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE than 50 officers of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) underwent random drug testing Monday morning.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, led the 56 police commissioned and non-commissioned officers in submitting their urine samples to PNP Crime Laboratory personnel at the ICPO conference room starting 8am.

Insp. Herbert A. Tunac, Insp. Maria Cecilia H. Gonzales and SPO1 Ruben T. Bonaobra of the Crime Lab conducted the random drug test.

Of the 56 police personnel who underwent the test, 12 are police commissioned officers (with ranks of Inspector to Senior Superintendent.

A total of 44 police non-commissioned officers (with ranks of Police Officer 1 to Senior Police Officer 4) underwent the drug test.

Mongcal said the purpose of the random drugs is to ensure that police officers are not drug users.

“We hope to correct the notion that there are some members of the Philippine National Police who are allegedly using illegal drugs,” Mongcal added.

Public losing confidence on city cops over Basag Kotse gang

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) can overhaul the entire Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) if the City Hall wants it.

C/Supt. Isagani R. Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said the Regional Mobile Group (RMG) in Negros Occidental has around 1,000 members who can be deployed to Iloilo City.

PRO-6 also has enough junior police commissioned officers (inspectors to chief inspectors) who can take over the 6 district police stations in the metropolis.

Calls for the revamp of the 500-strong ICPO headed by S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal echo as the city cops remain helpless in curbing the Basag Kotse gang preying on car owners in the city.

As of latest count, car thieves have already victimized 31 cars since February this year.

The latest Basag Kotse victim was an engineer who lost around P300,000 worth of valuables to suspects who smashed the glass window of his car parked inside a mall in Mandurriao district.

Cuevas said 500 RMG officers who finished their training can be readily deployed to Iloilo City.

Some of the RMG members served for 6 months in Jolo, Sulu at the height of the kidnapping of three Red Cross workers.

But Cuevas said it is the Iloilo City government that must request for the revamp of the entire ICPO force.

“Mayor Jerry Treñas can request for the relief of the entire force. The request must include an assessment to back up the request. We have to follow some rules and regulations particularly on the assignment and transfer of personnel as local officials have operational and administrative control over the police,” Cuevas said.

What will happen to the old ICPO force if the revamp happens?

Cuevas said they might be sent for retraining at the RMG headquarters as part of their thrust to reorient PNP officers on their work.

Despite the possible changes in his command, Mongcal still has the support of the PRO-6.

“We will still support S/Supt. Mongcal in everything he will do. That is our work here. We will give him all the resources he wants and all he has to do is check on his personnel to make sure that they execute their mission,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ARE car robbers smarter than Iloilo City cops?

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said members of the Bukas Kotse Gang study their tactics reason why they elude arrest.

Cuevas said the gang, which is responsible for 28 car heists in the last eight months, does it homework and are always a step ahead of the police.

Cuevas said the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) should also adopt the same attitude to finally neutralize the group.

Cuevas has directed the ICPO to double its efforts against the Basag Kotse syndicate by gathering more intelligence information and pinpoint the identities of the suspects.

The PRO-6 also wants city cops to observe the 7-9-7 duty scheme instead of the three-day work, two-day off system.

The duty scheme, which Cuevas implemented in 2008, requires policemen in a station to render duties in three rotating shifts. The first shift starts at 7am to 5pm while second shift starts 9am to 7pm. The last shift is from 7pm until 7am of the following day.

Cuevas said the scheme ensures that policemen are present at the station and their assigned posts.

The ICPO cracked the whip on its personnel by reshuffling the chiefs of three police precincts starting Thursday.

After more than two years, C/Insp. Conrado Carganillo was transferred from the Iloilo City Proper police station to Mandurriao district.

C/Insp. Elizer Baclagon was moved from Mandurriao PNP to Arevalo district while C/Insp. Federico Silvestre III took over the Iloilo City proper police station.

The chiefs of police in Jaro, LaPaz and Molo will remain in their posts for the meantime.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, gave an ultimatum to the Jaro and Iloilo City police stations to crack the three basag kotse incidents that happened last October 12-13, 2009.

Mongcal said they also organized the Task Group on Anti Theft and Robbery composed of Intelligence and Investigation and Detective Management Section (IDMS) personnel of ICPO.

The task group will focus on the gang and other robbery incidents in the city.

The ICPO also sought help from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to track down the gang members.

Mongcal said they have noticed that suspects transfer to Bacolod City after operating in Iloilo.

But city police releases him

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A SUSPECTED car robber surrendered to the Iloilo City Proper police station after he was tagged in Bukas Kotse incident last Tuesday morning.

Francisco Tamayo of Brgy. Monica, Iloilo City Proper is one of the two suspects who allegedly smashed open the Isuzu Crosswind of Wilfredo Lim at Burgos Street in the City Proper district near the Social Security System office.

Lim lost more or less P100,000 worth of gift checks and P25,000 cash.

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City Proper police chief, said Punong Barangay Lilliane Sorioso of Monica convinced Tamayo to surrender after a witness identified him as a suspect in the incident.

According to Carganillo, Tamayo was the person who asked helped from two charcoal haulers who were near the crime scene to push his stalled car near Plaza Libertad.

“Tamayo allegedly drew the haulers’ attention to Plaza Libertad so his cohort can break open Lim’s car and steal the bag containing the gift checks and cash. When his companion was finished with the heist, Tamayo told the haulers that his car was okay then picked up the other suspect,” Carganillo said in a press conference at the Iloilo City Hall.

Carganillos said Tamayo denied the allegations against him and has refused to speak to investigators.

Tamayo was released after questioning by authorities as he cannot be arrested under the “hot pursuit” rule as the incident happened two days ago.

The police also convinced the two charcoal haulers, who remain unidentified, to testify against Tamayo but they refused to cooperate.

SYNDICATE

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City Police Office OIC-director, said the car robbers who struck last Monday and Tuesday are “new faces.”

“We don’t have their photographs in our rogues’ gallery and they speak Tagalog, Waray and Cebuano which mean they are not from Iloilo,” Espejo said.

Three car heists happened around Iloilo City since Monday.

The first incident happened Monday evening outside a restaurant owned by the family of Mayor Jerry Treñas. Journalist Florence Hibionada and lawyer Joviel Edama lost two laptop computers and more or less P5,000 cash.

The second incident involved Lim’s car near SSS office.

The third incident happened outside a grocery store in Brgy. Quintin Salas, Jaro where businessman Margarito Parcon of Pototan lost P610,000 cash and a caliber .45 pistol with three magazines.

Espejo said the suspects may have passed by Iloilo to test their modus operandi and raise funds for their operations in Bacolod City which is celebrating the Masskara Festival.

Citing their previous investigations, Espejo said the Bukas Kotse syndicate operates in 10 teams composed of 2-3 persons per team.

Espejo said the suspects use three cars as surveillance, cover and getaway vehicles.

“We tried to trace the registration plates of the cars allegedly used by the syndicate but we encountered dead ends,” he added.

Espejo said they have information on the leader or leaders of the gang but he refused to give details for the meantime.

Acting Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog assured that the police are doing their job in tracking down the suspects who are tagged to 28 car robberies since February 2009.

Mabilog said the Bukas Kotse operation is not exclusive to Iloilo City “as it also happens in Bacolod, Cebu, Metro Manila and even other parts of the world.”

“These crimes could be happening because the city is developing. As we develop, we encounter many crimes that go along with progress. But the city government, the police and other law enforcement agencies are working together to solve this problem,” he added.

Police probes 3 separate car theft cases

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AFTER more than a month of hiatus, the notorious Bukas Kotse gang struck again the past two days and victimized a lawyer, a journalist and two businessmen.

In less than 24 hours, the car thieves hauled a total of P640,000 cash, P100,000 worth of gift checks and undetermined amount of laptops and personal items.

The first car theft happened around 10pm Monday evening in front of a restaurant owned by the family of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

Atty. Joviel Edama, newshen Florence Hibionada, broadcaster Jun Capulot and Nereo Lujan and Mercedes Tabano were having dinner at Carlos Bakeshop in Brgy. Dungon A, Jaro, right beside the house of Treñas.

Edama parked his silver Isuzu APV in front of the restaurant and left their personal items in the van.

When the group returned to the parking area, Edama discovered that the right glass window of the van was already broken.

The suspects carted away two laptops owned by Edama and Hibionada and two bags with more or less P5,000 cash inside.

According initial police investigation, the lone security guard saw two men lurking in the parking area minutes before the theft was discovered.

The guard said one of the men even asked him to buy bottled water inside the restaurant. But the men disappeared when the guard returned with the bottled water. Apparently, the men diverted the guard’s attention from the parking.

Waiters inside the restaurant said they saw another man making a call in his cellphone. But the man quickly went out of the restaurant along with two persons who boarded an unidentified vehicle.

Hibionada told Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo that she also noticed the man on the cellphone but she did not suspect as she was busy with their discussion aside from being tired.

The bags containing documents and computer software installers were recovered behind a grocery store in Brgy. Tabuc Suba, Jaro around 11pm.

The second incident happened 10am Tuesday at Burgos Street, Iloilo City Proper near the Social Security System (SSS)-Iloilo office.

Wilfredo Lim, 61, of Alta Tierra Village, Jaro parked his gray Isuzu Crosswind near SSS.

When Lim returned, his car’s glass window was already smashed. The suspects carted away P100,000 worth of gift checks and P25,000 cash.

Witnesses said they saw a car with three persons parked beside Lim’s vehicle before the theft was discovered.

The person driving the car asked help from bystanders to push the car because its engine stalled.

The Iloilo City Proper police station said the car may have served as distraction or cover while one of the suspects smashed Lim’s vehicle.

At around 2pm Tuesday, businessman Margarito Parcon of Brgy. Rumbang, Pototan discovered that the left glass window of his Nissan Frontier Navarra was already smashed to bits.

Parcon parked his vehicle outside SM Savemore in Brgy. Quintin, Salas, Jaro to buy some items inside the store.

When he returned 10 minutes later, Parcon discovered that his clutch bag containing P610,000 cash and a caliber .45 pistol with three magazines was already gone.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, ordered the Iloilo City Police Office to beef up its efforts in neutralizing the Bukas Kotse gang.

Wife’s statement vital in murder raps vs killers

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is awaiting the statement of a woman who was ambushed along with her husband and daughter in Jaro, Iloilo City two weeks ago.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, said the statement of Ronielyn Gulanes is vital to the case that will be filed against the mastermind and gunmen who waylaid her family September 3.

Ronielyn’s husband George died after they were ambushed at Brgy. Sambag, Jaro. They were supposed to bring their daughter, who was unhurt in the incident, to school when two suspects shot their pickup truck.

Mongcal said Ronielyn has yet to execute her affidavit as she is still recuperating at the Iloilo Mission Hospital.

Mongcal said the Jaro PNP has established the identity of the mastermind and the four persons who monitored and ambushed the Gulanes family.

“When we have the statement of the wife, we will file murder charges against the suspects,” Mongcal said.

Mongcal said the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) helped identify the gunmen who are believed to be hiding in Iloilo province.

According to ICPO sources, the mastermind is a person who lent money to the victim to start their own lending business.

The Jaro PNP said the ambush may have something to do with the couple’s lending business.

IPPO sources said the gunmen of the Gulanes family were also involved in the robbery of Vallacar Transit remittance center in Brgy. Buhang, Jaro a week ago.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CAR thieves have carted away more than P1 million worth of valuables as of August 2009, according to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO).

From February to August 29, 2009, a total of 31 Bukas Kotse cases were recorded in Iloilo City.

Mandurriao district accounted for the most number of incidents with 15 cases. For the month of August, a total of 8 car thieveries happened in the district.

Jaro district recorded 6 incidents, LaPaz (4), Molo (3), Iloilo City proper (2) and Arevalo (1).

The car thieves loot amounted to P1-million worth of laptop computers and P577,000 worth of cellphones and other items such as bags and a caliber .45 pistol owned by a gun club member.

The ICPO had given the Mandurriao PNP 15 days to crack down the car thieves.

S/Supt Melvin Moncal, ICPO director, said he set the same deadline on the intelligence section to gather information on the Bukas Kotse gang and neutralize them.

Moncal said two of four Bukas Kotse gangs have been neutralized while two are still active.

The police urged business establishments to use closed circuit TV cameras as precautionary measure against car thieves and other criminals.

A CCTV camera of JD and Emilion restaurants along Gen. Luna Street caught how the Bukas Kotse gang operates.

Moncal said the information from the video will help them profile and neutralize car thieves.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Mandurriao police in Iloilo City have 15 days to neutralize the gang behind car thefts around the metropolis.

S/Supt Melvin Mongcal, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, ordered Insp Elizer Baclagon, Mandurriao PNP chief, to break up the “Bukas Kotse” gang.

Majority of bukas kotse incidents happen in Mandurriao, particularly in a shopping mall, Smallville leisure park and Diversion Road area.

Last month, four car thefts were recorded in Mandurriao area alone. The suspects cart away laptops and cellphones left inside parked cars.

Mongcal said the Mandurriao police should maximize their intelligence operations to track down Bukas Kotse gang members.

Baclagon said they will coordinate with the ICPO intelligence section to profile the suspects.

The footage of bukas kotse suspects caught by a closed circuit TV camera of an establishment will also help the police track down the thieves, Mongcal said.

The footage showed the suspects using a van to surveillance target cars. After choosing the target car, another set of suspects on board a sedan will go near the target, smash the glass window and cart away their loot.

The Iloilo City Police Station 1 is also investigating Jovan Billones and Anthony Barrera both of Dela Rama Street, Iloilo City Proper District who were caught robbing a car owned by a softdrink company executive.

Billones and Barrera tagged a certain Butch Servando of Brgy Calaparan, Arevalo as the one who smashed the car’s glass window.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE former intelligence chief of Iloilo City said he is willing to be shot by a firing squad if proven that he has a hand in the death of a fellow police officer.

C/Insp. Musa Amiyong, former intelligence section head of Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), denied any involvement in the killing of PO2 Frederick Capasao.

Capasao, a former member of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was gunned down in front of his house in October 2007.

Capasao’s death is being linked to his anti illegal drugs operations which led to the arrest of some suspected drug traders.

A PNP intelligence report which surfaced this year pointed to some police officers who were involved in Capasao’s death.

Amiyong’s relief was recommended by the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) in Camp Crame.

Amiyong, however, said he does not know Capasao nor does he have any involvement in the latter’s death.

Amiyong said cases could have been filed against him if he was involved in the case.

“No one came to investigate me on this. If the allegations against me are true, they could have filed cases so I can undergo due process before being judged. If there is truth to that, I am willing to be shot by a firing squad,” Amiyong said.

Amiyong said Capasao’s case is not the basis for his relief to Metro Manila.

He also clarified his supposed close links to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr.

Amiyong said he only provided intelligence reports and threat assessments to Gonzalez.

“Maybe some of my fellow officers and politicians want me out of the ICPO,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE intelligence section (S2) of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is facing a major revamp with the assumption of its new chief last week.

S/Insp. Jay Malong, the new ICPO intelligence czar, began his work Friday by meeting S2 personnel to assess the peace and order situation in the city.

Malong also met with the six district police chiefs of the city a day after he assumed the S2 helm.

The new intelligence czar also recalled intelligence personnel assigned to field assignments following reports that some S2 personnel assigned seldom report to their office.

Malong said he is also considering a revamp of the office once held by the controversial C/Insp. Musa Amiyong who was transferred to Camp Crame.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, said he tasked Malong to focus on petty crimes such as pickpockets and snatching, bukas kotse gang and the campaign against illegal drugs.

Before Malong assumed office, members of the bukas kotse gang were feasting on cars in parking lots of shopping malls and other establishments.

As regards the illegal drugs trade in Iloilo City, Malong also met with officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Malong said he is still assessing the office and the situation in Iloilo City. His main thrust is to reorganize the S2 so he can smoothly implement his plans.

Malong headed the intelligence division of the Special Action Forces in Luzon before he was assigned here in Iloilo City.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TASK force dedicated to the fight against illegal drugs recommended the relief of a police official as chief of the intelligence section of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO).

The PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) headed by Police Director Raul Bacalzo reportedly recommended the transfer of C/Insp. Musa Amiyong from Iloilo City to the Holding and Accountability Office in Camp Crame.

Amiyong headed the Intelligence Section or S2 of the ICPO for almost two years. His name has been tagged in the alleged pilferage of fuel at the Iloilo Flood Control Project and the death of PO1 Frederick Capasao in 2007.

Two youth also accused Amiyong of frustrated murder after he allegedly shot them in General Luna Street, Iloilo City August 13, 2008.

Amiyong had denied the charges against him saying some people want him out of the ICPO.

Special Order No. 2384, which directed Amiyong’s transfer from ICPO to Camp Crame effective August 1, was issued July 27, 2009. It was forwarded to the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM) for transmittal to Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

But the order got snagged at the DPRM and was sent to PRO-6 only last Tuesday, almost a month after its issuance.

Aside from Amiyong, the PNP national command also ordered the transfer of PO2 Rudy Fancubila and PO2 Remy Donasco to Camp Crame.

Amiyong said his relief is part of his job, welcoming the development as he is set to retire next year.

Sources at the ICPO and PRO-6 claimed that Amiyong’s longevity at the ICPO is due to his closeness to a powerful political figure who once held an influential cabinet post.

NOT even police offices are safe from thieves.

 

Members of the Passi City Police Office arrested the suspect who allegedly ransacked the Community Police Assistance Center (COMPAC) detachment at Brgy. Agtabo, Passi City, Iloilo.

 

PO3 Niel Amador said Ricky Barrios is accused of carting away an Armalite rifle, an AK-47 rifle and a Carbine rifle from the detachment Monday.

 

Amador said no one was left to watch after the detachment because police officer Duncan Palomado, who is assigned to the station, went home.

 

Barrios brought his loot to the house of Ronnel Fuentes at Brgy. Sablugon, Passi City but the latter informed the police about the high powered firearms in his house.

 

 

In Iloilo City, Reynaldo Gallardo of Brgy. Don Esteban, Lapuz district complained with the Iloilo City proper police station that his motorcycle impounded in the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) was missing.

 

Gallardo said the Traffic Management and Engineering Unit impounded his motorcycle May 11 for driving sans a safety helmet and driver’s license.

 

But Gallardo was surprised when he found out yesterday that his motorcycle was nowhere to be found. (FAA)

Jerry threatens to withdraw support to ICPO for lousy intel

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry Treñas threatened to withdraw the City Hall’s financial and logistical assistance to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) because of its sloppy intelligence work.

 

Treñas said he is wondering why ICPO’s intelligence section head, Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong was complaining about the lack of intelligence fund for their activities.

 

Amiyong cited the lack of funds as one of the reasons why they cannot keep track of criminals in the city. He also complained that the 10-liter fuel allotted to his office every week is not enough.

 

Treñas said the City government allots P800,000 every year for the ICPO’s intelligence fund.

 

“That money is given as reward for cops who perform. Police officers who arrest and charge criminals are given P5,000 so why are they complaining. Before they complain, they should explain what are doing with the money,” Treñas said.

 

The mayor said he will be forced to withdraw the financial aid to the ICPO if the intelligence section does not straighten its acts.

 

Treñas also cited other logistical support to the ICPO in order to help improve the peace and order situation in Iloilo City.

 

“It is the responsibility of the PNP to provide logistics to its units. We are not the provider of the needs of the police. In fact, we are going out of our way to help the police by providing patrol cars, communication equipment and firearms. But if they complain that these are not enough, we will stop all these forms of assistance I don’t like these kinds of stories to come out,” he added.

 

The ICPO intelligence got flak from Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director Isagani Cuevas for its sloppy intelligence work.

 

Cuevas said this failure of intelligence led to the spate of bukas kotse incidents in the city.

 

The PRO-6 chief said the ICPO should explain why criminals are having a field day in Iloilo City.

By Jeehan V. Fernandez

 

THE Iloilo City Government has set aside P30,000 reward for the speedy crackdown of the notorious Basag Kotse gang preying on parked private cars in the metropolis.

 

“I am offering a P30,000 reward for the arrest and filing of charges against the Basag Kotse gang. I am alarmed – I think the peace and order situation should be addressed,” said Mayor Jerry Treñas.

 

The mayor will call for an emergency meeting with the City Peace and Order Council (Cpoc) today to discuss strict security measures following the series of car thefts.

 

Three basag kotse incidents happened Wednesday night.

 

Treñas also ordered the deployment of city’s SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team to check and strengthen security especially in the nightlife havens of Diversion Road in Mandurriao district.

 

The robbers target parked cars by breaking the glass window. They then cart away valuables such as laptop computers, I-pod music players, cellphones, digital cameras and wrist watches.

 

Both Treñas and Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, Senior Supt. Melvin Mongcal advised car owners and drivers not to leave their valuables inside their vehicles.

ICPO intelligence hit for sub-par performance

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has called the attention of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) to its below par intelligence gathering efforts following the spate of car thefts and robberies in the city.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said the ICPO should improve its intelligence operations to prevent criminals from striking once more.

 

Cuevas said intelligence work is vital to crime prevention as information on the plans of criminals will keep the police ahead of things.

 

The PRO-6 chief said he will make ICPO officials explain the “failure of intelligence” plaguing the unit.

 

The ICPO Intelligence Section (S2) is headed by the controversial Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong.

 

ICPO deputy director Eugenio Espejo agreed with Cuevas’ observation that their office is beset with “lousy intelligence” work.

 

But Espejo said they have created a special group within S2 to track down thieves and robbers operating in the city.

 

Amiyong who has linked to several controversies said they are working overtime to gather more information on criminals in the city.

 

He said he will explain everything to Cuevas when summoned to the regional headquarters.   

 

Amiyong has been tagged in the illegal drug trade and the killing of PO2 Frederick Capasao, a former member of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. He denied the accusations and dared his critics to prove their claims.

 

Amiyong’s occupation of S2 has been questioned by some police officials who said a police superintendent should head such sensitive post based on PNP regulations.

 

Last Wednesday evening, three “bukas kotse” incidents happened in Iloilo City – two in Mandurriao and one in Iloilo City proper.

 

ICPO records show that a total of 12 bukas kotse cases have occurred in the metropolis this year. Mandurriao district tops the list with 6 cases, Iloilo City proper with three incidents, LaPaz with 2 cases and Molo with 1.

 

Espejo said bukas kotse operations are mounted by a gang of 20 persons, including 4 women, divided into 4 teams.

 

The female members act as lookouts ase their male companions smash glass windows of cars with a rock wrapped in cloth. They then strip the cars of valuables such as laptop computers and cellphones.

 

Espejo said they have identified the members of the bukas kotse gang in the city.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THREE car thefts happened in Iloilo City Tuesday evening but police officials assured  the metropolis is still safe.

 

The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) believes that only one syndicate is involved in the series of “basag kotse” or car thefts the other night.

 

The first basag kotse incident victimized an Isuzu Fuego parked near a coffee shop in The Avenue complex inside Smallville Leisure Park along Diversion Road, Mandurriao district.

 

The owner of the vehicle, who asked not to be identified, claimed hearing a car alarm go off around 6pm but did no mind the incident. The owner later discovered the heist while about to leave the area. 

 

Mandurriao PNP investigators found out that the right rear glass window of the Fuego was broken.

 

The car owner said the suspects took away an Apple laptop computer worth P16,000, Acer 5100 laptop computer worth P40,000, a computer mouse worth P300, laptop charger and calculator worth more than P1,000.

 

The second bukas kotse operation involved an Isuzu Dmax pickup truck parked in front of Uncle Tom’s restaurant also on Diversion Road past 6pm.

 

The suspects took away laptop worth P35,000 and LCD projector worth P60,000.

 

Dax (not his real name), a medical representative, was surprised when he discovered that the right rear glass window of his Toyota Vios sedan, which was parked along Jalandoni Street near University of San Agustin, was also smashed to bits.

 

Luckily, the suspects only managed to take away a bag containing promotional materials and ballpens.

 

Dax said he kept his laptop computer in the rear compartment of his car. His bag was recovered 5am Wednesday in front of Barbecue Park restaurant.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO deputy director, said they are looking at one syndicate behind the series of car thefts.

 

Espejo said the group is composed of 20 members including four females who act as lookouts.

 

The ICPO official said the bukas kotse gang targets cars parked in malls and busy nightspots and vehicles owned by medical representatives.

 

“The suspects choose cars with bags or packages inside. They use a rock wrapped with clothe to smash the glass window. When they have an opening, they will open the car door’s lock and take away the valuables. They also have their own getaway car where they load their loot. Car owners should be careful not to leave their valuables in full view even if these are kept inside their car,” Espejo said.

 

Senior Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director who is on official trip to Metro Manila, said they are exerting all efforts to neutralize the bukas kotse gang.

 

Mongcal also assured that tourists and locals can still go around the city despite the spate of car thefts that happened in just one night.

Amiyong twits solon on illegal drugs yarn

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE chief intelligence officer of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is willing to lose his job if his detractors can prove that he is peddling illegal drugs.

 

Chief Inspector Musa Amiyong, ICPO intelligence section (S2) head, said he is challenging his critics to show proof that he is a rogue cop in cahoots with drug syndicates.

 

Amiyong in particular dared Iloilo 5th district Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas Jr. to buttress the intelligence report linking the former to the illegal drugs trade.

 

“They have an intelligence report then he should prove it. If they have proof, they can charge and have me removed from the service. I am willing to face that if they have sufficient evidence,” Amiyong said.

 

The intelligence report tagged Amiyong in the illegal drugs trade in the municipality of Estancia which is part of Tupas’ district.

 

Amiyong also dared Tupas to pinpoint the drug lords and pushers he is dealing with.

 

“If I am indeed into illegal drugs, I cannot just get shabu from Estancia, throw them to the ground and let drug addicts pick them up. They must prove that I have associates in this alleged illicit business,” Amiyong added.

 

The ICPO-S2 chief also threw the same challenge to his detractors who linked him to the slaying of PO2 Frederick Capasao two years ago.

 

Capasao, who was detailed to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, was shot to death in front of their house reportedly because of his campaign against illegal drugs.

 

Tupas revealed during the congressional hearing on the Balasan Boys controversy two weeks ago an intelligence report linking a chief inspector and three other police officers to Capasao’s murder.

 

But the congressman did not name the persons in the report which came from the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) of the Police Regional Office-6 based in Camp Martin Delgado in Iloilo City.

 

Amiyong said the PNP should investigate how a confidential intelligence report got into the hands of individuals outside of the PNP.

 

“In the first place, how did it get out of RID? Maybe Rep. Tupas has his own sources reason why he got hold of the document,” Amiyong said.

 

M16 RIFLE VS THIEVES

 

Amiyong also clarified reports that he requested M16 Armalite rifles which they will use to neutralize robbers and thieves preying on Iloilo City.

 

Amiyong said the issue cropped up after he borrowed M16 rifles from the ICPO armory for their operation Monday against a robbery group planning to hit a business establishment in the city.

 

“We borrowed the rifles because the suspects have high-powered firearms while the police only have pistols. We are not allowed to carry M16 because of the one officer-one firearm policy,” he said.

 

Amiyong said he later requested Senior Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, to ask Iloilo City Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. to buy more M16 rifles for the ICPO.

 

Mongcal said he tasked Amiyong to lead a team that will collar thieves and hired killers in the city.

 

“The M16 rifles were issued to the team on activity basis. In fact, we were able to foil an attempt to rob another business establishment because of that operation. Chief Insp. Amiyong has not slept because of their follow operations,” Mongcal said.

 

The ICPO intelligence section under Amiyong’s charge has been criticized for failure to preempt the spate of robberies and killings that happened in the city since late last year.

 

Last year, Amiyong was also charged with criminal and administrative raps for shooting two persons whom he allegedly hired to bomb the equipment of a contractor of the Iloilo flood control project. Amiyong had denied the accusations including the alleged bombing of the Korean contractor’s equipment.

Mayor orders crackdowns on heists

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHAT is the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) doing to curb down cases of car thefts and robberies in Iloilo City?

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas has ordered the ICPO to prevent more robberies and “Basag Kotse” incidents in the city following the spate of heists over the weekend.

 

Treñas said he directed ICPO chief Melvin Mongcal to conduct more checkpoints daily and nightly around the metropolis.

 

The mayor also told the police to strictly implement the no plate, no travel policy on motorcycles and cars.

 

Treñas said eight more patrol cars will be issued to the ICPO to improve its mobility and responses to incidents.

 

Unidentified suspects have been feasting on cars parked in front of establishments in broad daylight Saturday.

 

Practical nursing Rowena Paderes of Cabatuan, Iloilo was shocked to discover Saturday the shattered glass window of her Mitsubishi Lancer parked inside a mall in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

Paderes lost her laptop and other personal items inside her car.

 

A female physician also lost her cellphones, iPod music player and other valuables to unidentified thefts who also broke the window of her car parked outside Iloilo Medical Society compound on Luna Street, LaPaz district.

 

Napoleon Sinecida parked his Nissan Terrano on Quezon Street, Iloilo City proper to have lunch in a restaurant.

 

When Sinecida returned, his window was also shattered to pieces. He lost assorted magazines of his caliber .45 pistol.

 

Rice trader Vicente Dago of Pavia, Iloilo lost P30,000 cash to armed suspects at Brgy. San Isidro, LaPaz.

 

Senior Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police chief, said the license plate of the motorcycle used by the robbers was covered by dark plastic material.

 

Rosales said the suspects covered the plate to prevent investigators from tracing the owner of the motorcycle.

 

Rosales said he dispatched intelligence operatives to look for witnesses who saw the suspects who robbed Dago.

 

A photojournalist also lost his Samsung cellphone to hold-uppers in Jaro district.

 

Mongcal said he gave police precinct commanders in the six city districts the onus of preventing more robberies and arresting the suspects.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A POLICE officer assigned at the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) may be able to help piece the puzzling death of accountant Julie Balbanida.

 

The policeman, who has a rank of Police Officer 1, was the first to arrive at Uni Eco Steel office on Valeria extension street, Iloilo City proper where Balbanida worked and found dead last February 4.

 

Investigation by the ICPO and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) showed Uni Eco employee Albert “Ike” Panganiban fetched the police officer after Balbanida’s employer Raymond Coo discovered the altered Banco de Oro check worth P60,000 he entrusted to the lady accountant.

 

Information from sources privy to the investigation said Coo asked the police officer to help retrieved some items from Balbanida’s cellphone accessories stall inside a mall to pay for the P60,000 she allegedly embezzled from the company.

 

Initial police investigation said Balbanida committed suicide inside Uni Eco’s comfort room after Coo discovered that she altered and encashed a check meant to pay one of their suppliers.

 

But autopsy and paraffin test findings said Balbanida’s death was inconsistent with most suicide cases.

 

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City Police Station 1 chief, said the police officer already submitted his sworn statement regarding the incident but he refused to divulge its contents for the meantime.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office-6 director, said he directed the ICPO to investigate the policeman and find out if he was involved in the tampering of evidence in Balbanida’s case.

 

Paul Albert Jabian, marketing officer of Banco de Oro-Valeria who referred the altered check to Coo, said he last saw Balbanida alive around 11am of February 4.

 

When he returned to Uni Eco 2:30pm to 3pm of the same day, Jabian said he saw Balbanida talking to Coo and his father Teofilo Coo.

 

Raymond Coo later left and went to his lawyer and the ICPO. He returned with Panganiban and the police officer around 5pm when the bloodied Balbanida was found inside the CR.

 

The NBI yesterday conducted a reenactment of the alleged suicide at Uni Eco office.

 

Using a dummy bullet, NBI agents showed that gunfire can be heard from inside the CR contrary to the claims of employees that they did not hear any explosion. 

 

The investigators also inspected other parts of the office, particularly the second floor to gather evidence.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A CO-WORKER of the late Julife Balbanida who was arrested for murder and attempted murder charges filed more than 14 years ago Monday morning might be the key to mysterious death of the lady accountant, the Iloilo City police said.  

 

Members of the Iloilo City Police Station nabbed Andrew “Anding” Flores of Brgy. Tagbac, Jaro, Iloilo City at the premises of Uni Eco Builders.

 

Flores is facing murder and attempted murder charges with the Iloilo Regional Trial Court. The cases were filed in 1994 while then Judge Tito Gustilo issued his warrant of arrest sans bail for his temporary liberty.

 

Flores is a colleague of Balbanida who was found dead inside the comfort room of Uni Eco last February 4.

 

Initial reports said Balbanida committed suicide by shooting her head with a caliber .45 pistol for allegedly tampering a check entrusted to her. But the autopsy on her remains and paraffin tests indicate that foul play may have attended her death.

 

Flores is one of the seven Uni Eco workers who underwent but turned negative in the paraffin tests.

 

Balbanida also tested negative for gunpowder residue in her hands while her gunshot wound was inconsistent with most suicide cases, according to the findings of medico legal officer Noel Martinez.

 

Flores initially said he has no idea what happened to Balbanida last February 4 nor did he hear gunfire from their office’s CR.

 

Flores said his employers Teofilo Coo and son Raymond, Balbanida and Albert “Ike” Panganiban were the only ones left inside the office before she was found dead.

 

At around 2pm, Raymond and Panganiban went out to see his lawyer. The duo later returned to the office around 4pm then went to the ICPS to report the alleged check tampering by Balbanida.

 

Teofilo went out of the Uni Eco office around 5pm, Flores said. Balbanida was found dead past 5pm.

 

Flores later told the police and subsequent media interviews that Raymond told him to temporarily close their office between 2pm and 3pm.

 

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, ICPS 1 commander, said they Flores revealed some information to his brother Allen Flores which could shed light on Balbanida’s case.

 

Carganillo said Flores is still one of the suspects in the case “although he can be witness depending on his statements.”

 

“We will find out in his revelations if he knows something about the case,” Carganillo said.

 

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has begun investigating the case by summoning Balbanida’s employers and co-workers.

 

The Balbanida family sought the NBI’s help believing that lady accountant was murdered.

 

The family threatened to sue Uni Eco’s management and personnel if they do not cooperate in the investigation.

 

The City Hall offered cash reward to persons who can help the police even as the ICPS and the Iloilo City Police Office formed two investigating teams that will crack the case.   

Treñas threatens to arrest LTO enforcers

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry Treñas threatened to have arrested Land Transportation Office traffic enforcers who continue to prod drivers of jeepneys in the metropolis not to follow City Hall’s traffic ordinance.

 

Treñas said he will order the Iloilo City Police Office to arrest LTO personnel who question the City Hall’s power to regulate vehicular traffic.

 

The mayor said some LTO personnel convince drivers not to follow Iloilo City’s traffic ordinance.

 

Treñas said the LTO’s continued crackdown on erring drivers and convincing them not to follow city traffic rules is an act of bad faith because the League of Cities in the Philippines is still negotiating with the LTO central office regarding traffic rules and enforcement.

 

Treñas said he will ask for the relief of police officers who will not obey his order to arrest LTO personnel.

 

The conflict between the City Hall and LTO erupted after the latter office said it is the only agency that can confiscate driver’s licenses and registration plates of vehicles.

 

The LTO regional office also rejected traffic laws enacted by the City Council.

 

Councilor Erwin Plagata, committee on transportation chair and Traffic Technical Working Group (TTWG) head, slammed the LTO for not recognizing the City government’s power to regulate traffic as mandated by the Local Government Code.

 

Drivers are caught in middle of the City Hall-LTO tiff as they incur double penalties aside from confiscation of their permits and registration plates.

 

Treñas was miffed by LTO’s action saying he will not back down from the said agency.

 

“Unless the traffic problem is sufficiently resolved by the courts, I will not buckle and I have to show my fangs. Kon gamuhon nila kag gusto nila ang inaway, ti away ta eh (If they will cause chaos and fight us, then we will fight),” a fuming Treñas said.      

 

The Court of Appeals (CA) recently denied a petition for certiorari filed by LTO questioning the order of a Quezon City Regional Trial Court which ordered LTO to stop enforcing Memorandum Circular (MC) 33, Special Order 101-A, Special Order 101-1RM and MC 89-105.

 

The four LTO issuances are relative to the confiscation and removal of license plates. 

 

The CA said the LTO memorandum circular is “invalid for going beyond the terms and provisions of the law.

 

“The power cannot be extended to amending or expanding the statutory requirements or to embrace matters not covered by the statute and rules that subvert the statute cannot be sanctioned,” the CA said.  

 

Plagata said the LTO has no authority to confiscate the license plates of vehicles of traffic violators since Republic Act 136 (Land Transportation and Traffic Code) does not empower the agency to do so.

 

He said the LTO issuances advising vehicle drivers to follow the order set by its central office “could not be over and above the law on traffic of the city government.”

 

DIPLOMACY

 

Treñas said there is nothing personal in his “word war” with the LTO as he continues to use diplomatic approaches to solve the conflict.

 

The mayor said a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on traffic policies between the city government and the LTO is being finalized to ease out the disagreement.

 

Treñas said he talked with LTO chief Arturo Lomibao over the powers of the city government in implementing traffic rules and regulations as mandated by the Local Government Code and a joint memorandum of the LTO and Department of Transportation and Communications.

 

“The MOA could be signed either here or in Manila. We hope this will settle the issue once and for all,” he added. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ONE of the suspects in the robbery and killing of a non-governmental organization official has sent surrender feelers to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO).

 

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City Police Station 1 head, said they are negotiating with the family of Chris Tabaosares of Jaro, Iloilo City.

 

Tabaosares is one of the suspects in the death of Epi Ramos, chief executive officer of Field Epidemiology Training Program Alumni Foundation Inc., a partner organization of the Department of Health.

 

The stab-riddle body of Ramos was found inside Room 404 of Eon Centennial Plaza Hotel on Jalandoni Street, Iloilo City proper January 27.

 

More than P100,000 cash, two laptop computers, two cellphones and the victim’s wallet were missing from his hotel room.

 

Carganillo said Tabaosares and fellow suspect Jude Velado of Villa, Iloilo City were tagged by witnesses and hotel personnel as Ramos’ companions on evening of January 26.

 

The two suspects were also seen leaving the hotel premises around 1am of January 27, some seven hours before Ramos was found dead.

 

Carganillo said Tabaosares’ relatives coordinated with his office regarding the suspect’s desire to surrender and shed light on the case.

 

“Our personnel are in contact with his family and we continue to negotiate his surrender. The suspects are still here in Iloilo City,” he added.

 

Cases of robbery with homicide will be filed against Tabaosares and Velado anytime this week, Carganillo added.

 

“If Tabaosares surfaces and cooperates, he can become state witness and possibly exonerated of all charges that will be filed against him. If he can prove that he had minimal or no participation in Ramos’ killing, he has a good chance of becoming an eyewitness,” Carganillo said.

 

Carganillo said they will assure the security of Tabaosares if he decides to surrender to authorities.

 

Police Regional Office-6 director Isagani Cuevas earlier claimed a group of callboys preying on homosexuals might be behind Ramos’ robbery and death.

 

The group takes advantage of their victims’ sexual preference in order to rob and kill them, Cuevas added.

 

Cuevas ordered the ICPO to round up callboys in the city to resolve the case even as he advised hotels to implement stricter security measures. 

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City Police Office has found some inconsistencies in the crime scene and events leading to the alleged suicide of Julie Fe Balbanida Wednesday afternoon.

Based on the paraffin test conducted by the PNP Crime Laboratory, Balbanida tested negative for gunpowder nitrates in her hands.

 

This means that Balbanida, accountant-cum-cashier of Uni Royal Builders Supply, did not fire any gun before she was found dead inside the comfort room of Uni Royal office Wednesday afternoon.

 

Balbanida died of a single gunshot wound in the right portion of her head, according to the autopsy conducted by Dr. Noel Martinez, PNP medico legal.

 

Martinez said there was no smudging or gunpowder burns around Balbanida’s right temple where the caliber .45 bullet entered.

 

The medico legal theorized that the victim was shot from afar with a caliber .45 pistol.

 

The food inside Balbanida’s stomach suggests that she was already dead between 2pm and 3pm Wednesday, Martinez added.

 

SPO3 Victor Legaspi, investigator in-charge of the case, said he is also wondering why no empty bullet casing was found on the CR’s floor or near Balbanida’s body.

 

Aside from the pistol with a live bullet in its magazine and the slug underneath Balbanida’s head, the police found six empty shells inside a cellphone cartoon box.

 

“We are looking for the empty shell. The six shells we found are being tested to determine if these were fired recently or a long time ago,” Legaspi said.

 

Seven co-workers of Balabanida tested negative for gunpowder nitrates during the paraffin tests, Legaspi added.

 

The victim’s co-workers said they did not hear any explosion inside the CR

 

Raymond Coo, Balbanida’s employer, said he confronted the victim about a tampered check before she was found dead.

 

Coo said they discovered the fate of Balbanida after reporting the tampered check to the Iloilo City Police Station 1.

 

The businessman said he knew that Balbanida owned a gun but he had no idea that she brought the gun to the store.

 

The family of Balbanida said they do not believe she committed suicide because of a P60,000 check.

 

Balbanida, according to her mother Fe, had a cellphone store in a mall in downtown Iloilo.

 

S/Insp. Buena decries relief

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A RANKING officer of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) urged his fellow cops to unite and resist harassments directed against them. 

 

This was the reaction of Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena after he was relieved as ICPO operations officer Tuesday and transferred to the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO)

 

Buena is facing sexual harassment charges from Mika, an Iloilo City Hall casual employee detailed at the LaPaz police station. He had denied the charges saying he was just “joking” with the complainant.

 

Buena’s relief order was issued by the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) headed by Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas.

 

Buena said he felt bad over his relief because he was not afforded due process by his superior officers.

 

He added the charges against him were circulated via text messages but no formal complaint has been filed against him.

 

Buena even urged non-commissioned police officers (those with ranks Police Officer 1 to Senior Police Officer 4) to unite against harassments of police officers while discharging their duties.

 

Cuevas said transfer of police officers is a normal procedure in the PNP and should not be misinterpreted as a form of harassment.

 

Cuevas added Buena’s transfer to the IPPO is necessary since he is under investigation by the ICPO.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO officer-in-charge, has tasked Chief Insp. Graciano Zapanta to probe the allegations against Buena.

 

Also under investigation is PO1 Joan Cepeda for allegedly dissuading Mika from suing Buena.

 

PULLOUT

 

Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said he is contemplating the withdrawal of casual employees assigned to do clerical work and non-police duties at seven police stations.

 

Treñas also expressed disappointment with what happened at the La Paz police station involving Buena and a lady casual employee.

 

The city mayor said he will not tolerate unruly behavior by police officers as this will tarnish the PNP image.

 

Treñas said he is considering the recall of 12 casual employees detailed at district police stations to prevent similar incidents.

 

He said he approved the posting of casual employees at the police stations last month so that police officers can concentrate on peace and order operations.

 

“The idea was to have the policemen patrol the streets and add strong police visibility while the clerical work including driving of patrol vehicles will be done by civilian employees,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR-6) will assist a non-uniformed personnel assigned at the LaPaz police station in Iloilo City in her case against a ranking official of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO).

 

CHR-6 director David Bermudo said they are willing to help Mika in her quest for justice should she file charges of sexual harassment against Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena.

 

Bermudo said they will investigate if Mika (not her real name) lodges a formal complaint with the commission.

 

“If her rights were violated based on our investigation, we can recommend appropriate actions against the police official involved,” Bermudo said at the sidelines of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week celebration Tuesday.

 

Bermudo said police officers should respect and preserve human rights being persons in authority.

 

Buena, ICPO operations officer, is accused of allegedly fondling Mika’s hair, neck and waist inside the office of Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police officer-in-charge, last week.

 

Buena denied the allegations before his superior officer, ICPO OIC-director Eugenio Espejo, saying he was just joking.

 

The Office of the Regional State Prosecutor-6 assured it will keep tabs of Mika’s case against Buena since it involves a police officer.

 

Assistant regional state prosecutor Virgilio Garcia said they will make sure that no whitewash will happen if Mika sues Buena before the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office.

 

The Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has ordered Espejo to investigate the allegations against Buena.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, chided Espejo for trying to shun his responsibility to investigate the case by forwarding the matter to the regional headquarters.

 

“That’s not how you lead a unit. He should take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates,” Cuevas said.

 

Espejo said he has ordered Rosales, Buena’s classmate at the PNP Academy, to file an incident report relative to Mika’s complaint.

 

Espejo said Buena has been relieved as operations division chief pending the investigation.

 

The PNP Regional Internal Affairs Service is also investigating PO1 Joan Cepeda for allegedly trying to dissuade Mika from suing Buena.

 

Cepeda denied the allegations saying she was just explaining to the complainant the possible consequences of her complaint against Buena.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WAS the alleged threat by the suspected terrorist cell Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to bomb malls in the country for real or just a hoax?

 

As of this writing, intelligence agencies continue to verify the text messages saying that a JI leader interviewed by a radio station in Metro Manila issued threats to conduct simultaneous bombings on malls all over the country.

 

The threatening text messages quoted a certain Kumander Arcing-Diro of JI that they will mount mass bombing of one branch of a popular mall chain in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao at exactly 2pm of December 8.

 

The Police Regional Office (PRO-6) headed by Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas said they have yet to ascertain the veracity of the information.

 

Upon receiving the information, the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) dispatched its forces to conduct checkpoints and security on malls around the city.

 

Emergency ambulances of the Iloilo City Crisis Management Center and bomb-sniffing dogs were also deployed to a mall right after authorities received the text messages.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO officer-in-charge, said they did not take chances and decided to send their resources to the bombing target.

 

“We assure the safety of our malls and people should not be apprehensive with going to malls,” Espejo said.

 

A check with military intelligence sources said they have yet to receive confirmatory reports on the purported JI threat.

 

“But we cannot take chances. It is better to be cautious,” an intelligence source told The Daily Guardian in a text message.

 

Cuevas said similar response was also made in other cities in Western Visayas as a precautionary measure.

 

Aside from malls, the Philippine Coast Guard also doubled the security at strategic ports in Region 6.

 

PCG-Iloilo station chief Harold Jarder said they deployed bomb-sniffing dogs to make sure that no bombs and contrabands get through the ports.

 

The PRO-6 director said the PNP is now on alert with the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebration. The police are also gearing for incursions by the New People’s Army (NPA) when the Communist Party of the Philippines celebrates its anniversary December 26.

 

Cuevas said they have received intelligence reports that the NPA will attack six Iloilo towns – Bingawan, Calinog, Lambunao, Tubungan, Leon, and San Joaquin.

 

PRO-6 orders probe on ranking cop

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has ordered the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) to conduct a full-blown investigation on the alleged sexual harassment charges leveled at Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena.

 

The order of Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, is in contrast to the plan of Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO officer-in-charge, to ask the regional headquarters to conduct the probe on Buena to avoid perceptions of a “white wash.”

 

Cuevas said the ICPO should take the cudgels of investigating the case because it involves one of its officers.

 

The PRO-6 chief said the allegations against Buena are grave offenses which must be investigated.

 

Cuevas said Buena could be dismissed from service and lose his benefits if the charges against him are proven.

 

Buena, the ICPO operations division chief, is facing sexual harassment charges filed by a certain Mika, a City Hall casual employee detailed at the LaPaz police station.

 

Mika claimed Buena fondled her hair, chest and waist 9am of December 4 inside the office of Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police officer-in-charge.

 

Buena, in his conversation with Espejo over the weekend, admitted touching Mika’s hair and chest but denied squeezing her waist.

 

Buena also told Espejo that it was meant for a joke.

 

Cuevas also ordered the ICPO to investigate PO1 Joan Cepeda of the Women and Children’s Desk for allegedly trying to convince Mika not to sue Buena.

 

The Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) is also conducting a parallel investigation on Cepeda, according to Senior Supt. Robert Page.

 

Page said Cepeda’s action is considered a serious offense.

 

“They should investigate the case and gather evidences for the filing of cases if there are complaints filed with their office,” Page said.

 

Buena was also involved in the alleged tampering of evidence following the drug-bust and shootout by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency against suspected drug peddler Noel “White” Dineros more than a year ago.

 

Buena allegedly retrieved Dineros’ cellphone and deleted text messages which might have proved vital to his case. The allegations against Buena, however, remain unresolved.   

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) yesterday dispatched its personnel around the city following reports that a terrorist group will conduct bombings in the country, particularly in Visayas.

 

The information on the planned bombings by the Jemaah Islamiya (JI) circulated through text messages saying that a top leader of the suspected terrorist cell told an international news network about their attacks.

 

The text message said JI will target malls and commercial areas in their bombing operations.

 

The ICPO quickly dispatched the Iloilo City Mobile Group to mount checkpoints near malls and business areas.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, confirmed the existence of the text messages although he hoped it is just a hoax.

 

Cuevas said the ICPO movement is a normal reaction to threats to prevent untoward incidents.

 

PRO-6 said it continues to verify the text messages by counterchecking the information with other intelligence agencies.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo said the checkpoints are preemptive in nature although they have been conducting such operation as part of their anti-crime drives and to implement traffic-related regulations.

 

 

 

M-16 Armalite rifles for SWAT substandard

 

By Jeehan V. Fernandez and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AT LEAST five M-16 armalites bought by the Iloilo City Government in October for the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team are considered substandard, Councilor Erwin Plagata said.

 

SWAT is a specialized police group that deals with incidents like robbery, hostage-taking and bomb threats.

 

Plagata, chair of the City Council’s committee on police matters, said there have been “reports that firearms purchased by the City Government and given to SWAT seem to be not performing properly – these might be copycats and not original.”

 

Plagata raised the possibility during the City Council’s discussion on the P336,000 budget for the purchase of additional firearms for the city police.

 

The allocation for the new firearms is included in the P73-million supplemental budget which the City Council approved Wednesday.

 

The procurement of Armalite rifles last month cost the City Hall P139,000. It was not immediately clear, however, who was the supplier of the firearms.

 

“SWAT members are complaining that the firearms might be substandard. The guns cannot be zeroed in, thus it cannot hit the target when fired,” Plagata explained.

 

Based on a report submitted to him, Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, OIC-director of the Iloilo City Police Office, said it was PO1 Remaria Fuentebella of the SWAT team who reported the supposed defective rifles to the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

 

Fuentebella told the committee on appropriations during a public hearing November 21 that the actual rifles they received did not match the specifications in the purchase request from the City Hall.

 

Fuentebella also told Councilors Plagata, Jose Espinosa III, Perla Zulueta and Eduardo Peñaredondo about the defective sights of the rifles.

 

Tobias said he has ordered their supply section to verify Fuentebella’s claims by checking the rifles.

 

“Issuing substandard rifles to the SWAT is dangerous. If there is a hostage situation, our SWAT members might hit the hostage instead of the hostage taker because of defective rifle sights. Our officers will also be in danger because they will find it difficult to hit the enemy,” Tobias said.

 

Tobias said City Hall may recall the alleged defective rifles and hire an independent expert to check if the guns meet the standards.

 

“These rifles are owned by the City government, not the PNP. They can always retrieve the rifles if the city wants to,” Tobias said.

 

The city’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) will look into the alleged defective firearms.

 

‘No firing tests, no acceptance’

 

Mayor Jerry Treñas wants “firing tests” before City Hall accepts additional new rifles from the supplier who won the bidding for the supply of firearms to the City Government.

 

“If the firearms delivered are not acceptable to the end user, we have to return these to the supplier. The BAC might have no knowledge of this specialized equipment. Though the firearms are covered by one-year warranty,” Treñas explained.

 

“There should be a firing test with the presence of the supplier so that if there are complaints on the firearms, these could be returned immediately.”

 

Meanwhile, he directed the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to look into the reported substandard M-16 armalite rifles given to the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team last month.

 

The mayor said City Legal Office (CLO) chief, Atty. Edgar Gil as BAC chair will write the supplier about the defective firearms.

 

The City Council approved P336,000 Wednesday for the purchase of additional firearms.

 

Vice Mayor Jed Mabilog said that some 100 of the 700 city police personnel render service without firearms.

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