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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE region’s top cop ranted at police personnel who continue to resist the 7-9-7 work schedule imposed by the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said he received a text message from a concerned citizen informing him that a female police officer in Iloilo City slammed him for the new work schedule.

“I verified the identity of the informant and the police officer and they do exist. There are still officers who resist the 7-9-7 schedule,” Cuevas said.

Under the 7-9-7 duty scheme, police personnel in a station are divided into three teams. Team A reports to duty from 7am to 5pm while Team B reports from 9am to 7pm. Team C will report from 7pm to 7am.

The 7-9-7 duty is a deviation from the 2-day off, 1-day duty schedule previously followed by police personnel.

“Under the new schedule, two-thirds of the police force will be on duty, thereby ensuring maximum police presence. If we have enough cops on duty, we can fulfill our peacekeeping work,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said police visibility on the streets will help deter crimes, particularly the Bukas/Basag Kotse gang which is preying on car owners.

Cuevas cited the accomplishments of the new duty shift scheme such as the foiled bank heist in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental and the solving of several robbery incidents in Iloilo province.

“In Hinigaran, the police were able to respond and neutralize the suspects because more than half of the force was on duty. Even the station commander led the hot pursuit,” he added.

The PRO-6 also credited the 7-9-7 work schedule for topping a survey on the performance of police offices in the country.

The survey was conducted by a private firm commissioned by the PNP national headquarters to check on the operational and administrative performance of police units.

Cuevas said police officers must work round-the-clock, unlike other public servants who are only required to work 8 hours a day.

Still, police officers are entitled to 1-day off per week. The scheduled break also rotates among the police station teams and personnel.

Mas maayu pa ang mga security guards kay ga duty 12 hours a day, ang police 10 hours lang ga reklamo pa. The 7-9-7 schedule aims to instill our officers that they should take our work as a serious career, not just an ordinary work. We also want to instill discipline and prevent our officers from gallivanting and moonlighting when they go on break,” Cuevas said.

The 7-9-7 schedule also assures spouses of police officers that they will go home after duty “thereby avoiding domestic problems among our officers.”

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE brutal murder and robbery of a 62-year-old Australian last Tuesday may have been set up by a member of his household, the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) said.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they are eyeing “inside job” in the murder of Werner Holz, a former policeman believed to be from Melbourne, Australia.

 

“We are focusing on the possibility of an inside job in this case because the suspects were very familiar with the Holz residence. The suspects knew every nook and cranny of the house and which room to enter,” he said.

 

Cuevas said somebody from Holz’s household may have tipped off the suspects about the victim’s movements and on possible points of entry into the house.

 

“Based on our investigation, the suspects entered the house through the emergency exit in the bathroom of the master bedroom. Apparently, someone told the suspects about the emergency exit,” Cuevas said.

 

Cuevas said they are also investigating relatives of Holz’s wife, Vivian Posadas-Holz, who used to work for the family.

 

He said several persons related to his wife used to work for Holz “but they left because of some conflicts.”

 

“That might explain why the suspects wore masks because they are familiar to the victim,” the PRO-6 chief said.

 

Cuevas said investigators are also looking into Holz’s relationship with his wife and her relatives in Ajuy and business management.

 

“We have gathered information that the Holz couple are always arguing. Holz also regained control of their business from Vivian,” he said.

 

Cuevas said the hesitation of the house helps to respond to Vivian’s cry for help thinking the couple is fighting again proves that they were not in good terms.

 

Holz and his wife had been living in Ajuy for 10 years and were engaged in money-lending, pig farming and trading.

 

The Australian national reportedly transferred ownership of their businesses and properties to his youngest daughter from his first marriage.

 

“Everybody is a suspect here, including the family and household staff. We are looking into every personality and angle involved in this case,’ Cuevas said.

 

Aside from Vivian, the other companions of the victim inside the house at the time of the incident were their 7-year-old son Kevin; Elizabeth (Holz’s daughter from his first marriage); Kevin’s nanny and the house help.

 

To recall, three masked men forced their way into Holz’s bedroom Tuesday and stabbed him 24 times in the chest, back and neck.

 

They then forced Vivian Posadas-Holz to open a safe from which they took P1.2 million pesos in cash and jewelry.

 

Investigators are baffled with the immaculately clean crime scene which did not yield any latent fingerprint of the suspects.

 

A police officer in Task Force Werner who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the case said the crime scene may have been swept clean before scene of the crime operatives arrived.

 

Or the suspects may have used hand gloves, the investigator added.

 

The Ajuy police headed by Senior Insp. Ariel Artillero also found it difficult to extract more information from Vivian.

 

Meanwhile, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Canberra said it was providing consular assistance to the Holz family.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO City recorded the highest number of stray bullet incidents when Ilonggos bade farewell to 2008 and welcomed 2009, the Year of the Ox.

 

Records from the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) and Iloilo City Police Office as of January 2, 2009 showed a total of 17 stray bullet cases with 5 injuries. This is higher than 6 stray bullet incidents recorded when Ilonggos welcomed year 2008.

 

Molo district recorded the most number of stray bullet cases with 10.

 

The Jaro police rushed to the home of businessman Benny “Vulcan” Espinosa at Villa Las Palmas after receiving reports that gunfire was heard from within the Espinosa residence.

 

But Espinosa denied the allegations and even invited the police and the media to go inside their home to check if they have firearms.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City police director, said gun owners may have opted to fire their firearms as heavy rains might have discouraged them from using traditional firecrackers on New Year’s eve celebration.

 

Espejo said some gun owners did not heed their call against indiscriminate firing.

 

As regards firecracker incidents, data from the PRO-6 as of January 1 showed a total of 42 firecracker-related accidents in Region 6. The figure is lower than 62 firecracker injuries in 2008.

 

Bacolod City recorded the most number of firecracker injuries with 17, Iloilo province  10, and Negros Occidental 6.

 

PRO-6 authorities attributed the small numbers to the rain on New Year’s Eve.

 

But the Department of Health (DOH-6) has yet to release its own data on firecracker incidents referred to major hospitals in the region.

 

Meanwhile, DOH national figures showed a 25% decrease in firecracker injuries from 436 cases in 2007 to 346 cases from since December 22, 2008 to present.

 

The DOH central office also reported a total of nine stray bullet injuries, but the PNP said a higher number of 37 cases were reported to police stations since December 17.

 

VIOLENCE

 

Violent incidents marred the New Year in Iloilo province.

 

The worst incident happened in Dumangas town with the beheading of 20-year-old Edward Rosarito.

 

Lozarito’s headless body was found in a ricefield at Sitio Buhang, Brgyl. Ilaya 2nd in Dumangas Friday morning. The victim’s head was found 1 meter from his body, the Dumangas police said.

 

Lozarito also suffered wounds in his shoulders and forehead.

 

The victim was a native of Lambunao, Iloilo but worked in Brgy. Ilaya 2nd. He temporarily stayed in the house of a certain John Sandoval before he was found dead.

 

According to police investigation, Lozarito received a call in his cellphone Thursday evening then went out of Sandoval’s house.

 

Sandoval said the victim went to Brgy. Bacay, Dumangas on New Year’s Eve to visit his textmate.

 

The Dumangas police surmised old grudges were the motive for the incident because of the victim’s severe wounds.

 

In another incident, Joefrey Calimpay of Brgy. Bayag, Leon was stabbed to death by his own grandfather, Jose Wilson Calimpay, in the plaza of the said village Thursday.

 

An old grudge between the two is believed to be the motive for the incident.

 

In Cabatuan, Iloilo, Benedicto Pien and Ronald Amor were shot to death during the fiesta of Brgy. Tacdangan on New Year’s Eve.

 

Two persons also died in separate incidents in San Enrique, Iloilo also on New Year’s Eve.

 

Noel Aguilar, 47, of Brgy. Abaca in the said town was pummeled to death during a rumble.

 

Dennis Debaja of Brgy. Cumpo was killed in a melee between his brothers Rene Debaja and Remar Debaja and cousin-in-law Ramil Daras.

 

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

 

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.   

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