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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.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has intensified its intelligence operations following reports of hired guns planning to make hits during Holy Week.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they are verifying the intelligence report about a pickup truck, allegedly carrying assassins, that managed to slip past a police checkpoint the other day.

 

Who is their target? Police could not say.

 

Police verified the plate number of the truck and found out that it was assigned to a Honda CRV.

 

“We have deployed our intelligence operatives to dig deeper into this. We don’t want these hired guns to kill somebody during one of the most sacred events of Christianity,” Cuevas said.

 

As part of their preparation for the Holy Week, the PRO-6 has cancelled the vacation leaves – approved and pending – of all police personnel in the region.

 

“We want to maintain our whole force and send them to the field during the Lenten season. Maximum police visibility through patrols and checkpoints will be mounted to secure travelers and churchgoers,” Cuevas said.

 

The PRO-6 said the whole police force in the region will be on heightened alert starting Holy Monday next week.

 

Iloilo Provincial Police Office director Ricardo dela Paz said 63 police officers including 18 police inspectors were added to their force in time for the Holy Week, adding that all police stations in Iloilo province are on alert for the one-week religious affair.

 

He advised the public to observe Lent and avoid taking too much liquor which might lead to trouble.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has intensified its intelligence operations following reports of hired guns planning to make hits during Holy Week.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they are verifying the intelligence report about a pickup truck, allegedly carrying assassins, that managed to slip past a police checkpoint the other day.

Who is their target? Police could not say.

Police verified the plate number of the truck and found out that it was assigned to a Honda CRV.

“We have deployed our intelligence operatives to dig deeper into this. We don’t want these hired guns to kill somebody during one of the most sacred events of Christianity,” Cuevas said.

As part of their preparation for the Holy Week, the PRO-6 has cancelled the vacation leaves – approved and pending – of all police personnel in the region.

“We want to maintain our whole force and send them to the field during the Lenten season. Maximum police visibility through patrols and checkpoints will be mounted to secure travelers and churchgoers,” Cuevas said.

The PRO-6 said the whole police force in the region will be on heightened alert starting Holy Monday next week.

Iloilo Provincial Police Office director Ricardo dela Paz said 63 police officers including 18 police inspectors were added to their force in time for the Holy Week, adding that all police stations in Iloilo province are on alert for the one-week religious affair.

He advised the public to observe Lent and avoid taking too much liquor which might lead to trouble.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE death threats against four top officials of Ajuy, Iloilo can be resolved if the two feuding political families in the town settle their scores peacefully.

 

This was the recommendation of Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, regarding the alleged plot on the lives of Ajuy Mayor Juancho Alvarez, Sangguniang Bayan Members Pepe Dumayao and Pepe Baterna and Iloilo fifth district Board Member Jett Rojas.

 

Rojas alleged that their cousin Vicente “Etik” Espinosa is behind the plot.

 

Espinosa is also being tagged as the mastermind of the assassination of the late Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas last year.

 

Cuevas said the feud between the Rojas and Espinosa families could be the reason for the alleged assassination plans against the four officials.

 

Cuevas said it would be best if the two families settle their scores in peaceful manner instead of resorting to violence means.

 

The PRO-6 chief is also willing to hold a dialogue with the personalities involved in the issue.

 

“I advise the four officials of Ajuy to be extra careful because of the reported plot on their lives,” Cuevas said.

 

The Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) earlier revealed that four officials in northern Iloilo are the targets of a gun-for-hire group.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO chief, said they have prepared security measures to protect the four officials from the alleged assassination plot.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) cannot sue the police officers allegedly involved in the death of a police officer who was at the forefront of the anti-illegal drugs campaign in Iloilo City.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they have no witnesses who can tag four police personnel in the death of PO2 Frederick Capasao more than two years ago.

 

Capasao, who was once assigned at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea), was gunned down in front of their home in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

 

An intelligence report pointed to four police officers – one chief inspector, two police officers 2 and a police officer 1 – of having a hand in Capasao’s death.

 

The report dated February 16, 2008 came from the Regional Intelligence Division headed by Senior Supt. Cornelio Defensor.

 

Cuevas said he read the intelligence report which became the basis of an investigation mounted by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

 

“I had the report validated by ordering the CIDG to investigate the case in coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation which was able to get some witnesses,” Cuevas said.

 

But none of the witnesses, Cuevas said, was willing to execute sworn affidavits which can be used as evidence against the four police officers.

 

Even the wife of Capasao, Marisol, was afraid to issue her sworn statement, the PRO-6 chief said.

 

Cuevas said they cannot determine if the four police officers indeed killed Capasao or were just accomplices.

 

Capasao is one of the police officers responsible for the arrest of suspected drug suspect Cairoden Abdullah in 2005.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has ordered a manhunt against an Army soldier from Tigbauan, Iloilo who shot three of his superiors at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio Wednesday evening.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said he ordered the Iloilo Provincial Police Office to watch out for Army Sgt. Elias Tial should he return home to Brgy. Bagacay, Tigbauan to attend his father’s funeral.

 

Tial, a member of the Army’s 12th Special Forces Company shot dead Capt. Dionilo Aragon Jr., 30, Master Sgt. Eliseo de la Cruz, 46, and 1st Lt. Gerald Fuentes, 31 Wednesday evening at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

 

Fuentes is a native of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental while Aragon hailed from Agusan del Sur. De la Cruz is from Davao del Norte.

 

De la Cruz was the intelligence officer and first sergeant while Aragon was the executive officer of the Army’s 12th Special Forces Company.

 

The unit’s commanding officer, Capt. Benito Ramos, 31, was also wounded in the attack and remains in critical condition at the Makati Medical Center.

 

Tial left after the carnage leaving behind the M16 Armalite rifle he used.

 

Reports from the Army said Tial had been asking his superiors to allow him to go on a leave of absence to attend his father’s burial March 4 in Tigbauan. His request was granted but it was later recalled.

 

The shooting broke out 9:55 pm Wednesday after Tial was issued an Armalite from the supply room for his use in sentinel duty.

 

On his way to his post, Tial saw the officers gathered inside Barracks 3 of the Army’s Transient Quarters. He then opened fire while uttering the words “You don’t know how to treat a soldier in need.”

 

Investigators recovered six empty shells and two live 5.56 mm bullets at the crime scene.

 

Cuevas said the police must immediately arrest Tial should he show up at the funeral or any part of Western Visayas.

 

“Our police units, particularly the Tigbauan police station, should be on alert,” the PRO-6 chief said.

 

Tial’s wife Mary Jane said in several radio interviews that they have no contact with her husband nor do they know his whereabouts.

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

 

IF you can’t follow orders, quit.

 

This is one advice that Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, conveyed to Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena after the latter decried his relief from the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) because of sexual harassment charges.

 

A fuming Cuevas said Buena’s relief from the ICPO and transfer to the Iloilo Provincial Police Office is part of due process the PRO-6 is observing relative to the charges against him.

 

Buena is accused of fondling and inducing a female casual employee of the City government detailed at the LaPaz police station, charges which he denied.

 

Buena had earlier said that he was relieved abruptly based on unfounded accusations spreading via text messages. He also hit the culture of harassment within the ICPO and the PNP which demoralizes lower ranking cops.

 

The former ICPO operations officer even urged non-commissioned police officers to unite against this culture of harassment in the disorganized ICPO.

 

Cuevas shot back at Buena calling the latter an abusive officer for his involvement in numerous controversies.

 

The PRO-6 chief said the decision to remove Buena from ICPO is not his alone but a policy imposed by the PNP organization if one of its officers in facing charges or involved in controversies.

 

Cuevas said Buena should have been relieved by his superior officer, ICPO officer-in-charge, Supt. Eugenio Espejo.

 

“Everybody is covered by this policy and Buena knows that. It’s part of due process because his superior did not act immediately. If he wants due process, he should attend the hearings if a case is filed against him. If he cannot stand the policies of the PRO-6, he can leave the PNP,” Cuevas said.

 

Cuevas said it is normal to relieve police officers who are facing charges so they cannot influence the outcome of the investigation and also to protect the complainant.

 

“It would be hard for the complainant to pursue the case if the accused is keeping a watchful eye on the investigation,” he added.

 

TREÑAS: SHUT UP

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas told Buena to shut up and stop criticizing the ICPO and the PNP where he belongs.

 

“Whatever he is saying will not help his case. Ang maayo pa maghipos na lang siya (It would be better for him to shut up),” Treñas said.

 

Treñas said he is reviewing the program of assigning casual employees at police stations to do clerical works.

 

The mayor said he wanted policemen to concentrate on their law enforcement duties by patrolling the streets instead of staying in their stations to do office ordinary work.

 

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.

 

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

SIX police officials are being eyed to become full-fledged director of the Iloilo City Police Office (IPCO).

Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director Isagani Cuevas said among the candidates is Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias who is currently ICPO officer-in-charge.

Tobias replaced Senior Supt. Wesley Barayuga who went on schooling and is now eyeing the PRO-6’s Regional Logistics Division.

Cuevas said Tobias has applied for the top ICPO post with the Senior Officers Promotion and Placement Board (SOPPB) in Camp Crame.

Another candidate is Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, the current director of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office.

Dela Paz is credited for neutralizing alleged leaders of highway robbery gangs operating in Iloilo province. He also solved the assassination of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas with the arrest of prime suspect Dennis Cartagena last September in Butuan City.

Senior Supt. Cornelio Defensor, Regional Intelligence Division chief, is also eyeing to become the city’s top cop.

The other candidates for the ICPO directorship are Senior Superintendents Rosendo Franco of the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office, Ronilor Quebrar of Bacolod CPO and Ren Darroca of Antique PPO.

Cuevas said the SOPPB will come up with a final list of officers which will be submitted to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who will handpick the next ICPO director.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TEN police trainors were relieved from the 6th Regional Mobile Group training center in Victorias City, Negros Occidental due to alleged hazing which victimized more than 50 police trainees.

 

Supt. Remus Canieso RMG battalion commander, confirmed that 52 police officers undergoing special counter-insurgency training in Camp Aniceto Lacson either suffered injuries or got sick in the course of the training.

 

Canieso said they discovered the medical condition of the trainees during their medical tests Friday last week.

 

Complaints of hazing from the police trainees triggered the medical examination conducted at the Teresita Jalandoni Memorial Hospital.

 

Canieso said 23 female trainees and 29 male trainees suffered hematoma in various parts of their bodies possibly caused by blunt objects.

 

The RMG chief has ordered the relief of 10 trainors – Insp. Stephen Sumusot, Insp. Diane Grace Aquitaña, Police Officers 1 Jean Hiponia, Annie Rose Tupas, Cherry Lacson, Ma. Lowelyn Moise, Marife Cantomayor, Rhea Biasa, Rhia Oñate and Rowena Pimentel.

 

Canieso said the trainors are now restricted at Camp Aniceto Lacson pending the investigation on the alleged hazing.

 

“This is not a normal practice of the PNP that is why we have laws against these practices. It is for this reason, also, that we are placing our instructors under investigation. In fact, they were already restricted to camp,” Canieso said.

 

The RMG chief said the trainors could face administrative and criminal raps if proven that they engaged in hazing.

 

Last October, a police trainee identified as Police Officer 1 Tristan Lopez died during a routine exercise outside the camp.

 

The National Bureau of Investigation and the PNP have been conducting separate investigations into Lopez’s death.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office-6 director, said they are now trying to find out the possible link of the alleged hazing at the training camp to Lopez’s death.

 

“Some tactical instructors and trainers think hazing is helpful for the officers, but we are still determining whether it is true or not. We will file appropriate charges if lapses and negligence were committed,” Cuevas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A POLICE officer slapped a P5-million civil suit against Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. for allegedly humiliating and oppressing him.

SPO1 Rex delos Reyes of Igbaras police station said he wants Gonzalez to pay moral damages for accusing him coddling goons and engaging in illegal activities.

Delos Reyes had also filed an administrative case against Gonzalez before the Ombudsman-Visayas for libel, grave misconduct and oppression.

The cop said he sued Gonzalez for harassing him since last year. Delos Reyes said his agony began when the justice department chief saw him talking to former Iloilo City Prosecutor Efrain Baldago at the new Iloilo airport.

Gonzalez ordered Baldago’s relief as city prosecutor early this year for alleged graft and corruption which the latter denied.

Delos Reyes also blamed Gonzalez for his transfer from the Regional Mobile Group to Igbaras for alleged links to criminal syndicates. He also rapped Gonzalez for having him transferred to Mindanao also for purported criminal activities.

The libel suit was based on Gonzalez’s pronouncement over a radio interview accusing delos Reyes of maintaining armed goons. Gonzalez also said in the same interview that delos Reyes was not reporting to Igbaras but was always seen in Iloilo City.

Gonzalez had also accused delos Reyes of lobbing grenades at the cars of Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong, Iloilo City Police Office intelligence chief, and former punong barangay Ramonito Gratis.

The cop said the numerous citations he received – Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Medalya ng Paglilingkod sa Visayas and Medalya ng Mabuting Asal – prove that he is no scalawag in uniform.

Delos Reyes is one of the 81 cops who were ordered to undergo retraining at the Regional Mobile Group headquarters in Victorias City, Negros Occidental. But he did not show up at the training center because he is sick.

Atty. Plaridel Nava, delos Reyes’ counsel, said they might also sue Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, for being Gonzalez’s “stooge.”

Nava, who is also Baldago’s lawyer, said they will sue Cuevas for grave abuse of authority if they find enough proof that the region’s top cop allowed himself to carry out Gonzalez’s wishes.

Nava said his client did not proceed to Victorias City because he did not receive any order from the regional command or his station.

The lawyer said delos Reyes does not need to undergo retraining.

Cuevas denied Nava’s accusation saying it was the PNP national command that ordered the retraining, not Gonzalez.

Cuevas said the retraining aims to improve the performance of police officers in Western Visayas.

“If they don’t want to serve as police officers, they can always resign because we have many replacements waiting for vacancy,” Cuevas said.

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