Tommy to police: Earn public trust
AMID the spate of mostly unsolved killings in Metro Cebu, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has a message for the members of law enforcement agencies, particularly the police.
“You have to earn public trust. You cannot demand it,” Osmeña said.
His advice came days after the police urged the public to keep their trust on them despite the several killing incidents in Cebu, and after reports that some officers are behind these crimes, an allegation that Osmeña himself openly believed.
But the mayor’s relationship with the city’s police may again be tested with the filing yesterday of criminal complaints against one of his trusted allies, Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, after the latter allegedly took custody of a driver of the motorcycle who was initially reported to be involved in the attempt on the life of Barangay Tejero Councilman Jessielou Cadungog.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7) made good of their pronouncements to file criminal charges on physical injuries, grave coercion, and grave threats against Councilor Dave Tumulak.
The mayor also criticized the police’s insistence that Cebu remains “safe” because the recent cases of murders did not share any pattern and were therefore only “isolated cases.”
“When an ordinary person is murdered in broad daylight, the police just excuse it with ‘linked to drugs.’ If the victim is a PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) assistant director, he is a ‘courier of drugs.’ But if the murderer fails and is killed in self-defense, he is part of a ‘legitimate surveillance operation,’” said Osmeña.
“And when a policeman is caught on CCTV (closed-circuit television) performing his fifth robbery, he is given ‘due process.’ All this, and the police still insist that Cebu is ‘safe.’ Tell me, is this the police we should accept?” he added.
The mayor had been lashing out at the police after they blamed Cadungog and his bodyguard, William Macaslang Jr., for the death of PO3 Eugene Calumba.
Cadungog, an ally of Osmeña in Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), was reportedly a target of an ambush, with Calumba as the gunman. Macaslang admitted he fired first at the cop in “self-defense” when he saw Calumba drew out his gun and aimed at Cadungog’s vehicle.
But the police insisted the attack on Calumba was unprovoked, and filed murder charges against Cadungog and Macaslang instead.
Since then, Osmeña said he has “transparency issues” with the police in Cebu.
In turn, he requested the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to publicly present a license permitting Michael Banua, the person who drove the motorcycle boarded by Calumba, to carry firearms.
“Because he is a suspected gunman, not just a civilian asset – and he’s close to Calumba. So produce it,” said Osmeña.
This developed as the CIDG-7, represented by Lawyer Inocencio dela Cerna, submitted their cases against Tumulak before the City Prosecutor’s Office yesterday afternoon.
They accused Tumulak, and three John Does, of physically assaulting Banua.
Dela Cerna said that aside from Banua, one of their witnesses included an 11-year-old boy, whom their camp claimed to have seen the incident.
However, members of the media were not allowed to take a copy of the witnesses’ affidavits.
A summary of the complaint, signed by SPO4 Reynaldo Romero, investigator-on-case of CIDG-7, claimed that after the shooting incident, Calumba and Banua headed to a nearby gas station to ask for help.
But a group of barangay tanods on board a black pickup truck arrived and allegedly pointed their firearms on Banua.
Banua was quoted as saying that he begged for help from bystanders to bring Calumba to the nearest hospital since the tanods refused to let them go.
The CIDG-7’s report also claimed that Tumulak arrived in the area, and reportedly slapped and punched Banua before pointing a gun at him.
They added that it was the councilor, who is the deputy mayor on police matters, who instructed the barangay tanods to handcuff Banua.
Tumulak was also accused to have continued punching Banua while on their way to Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) as an attempt to extract information from the latter over who wanted to kill Cadungog.
“Then he (Tumulak) forcibly took his wallet that contains several identification cards and cash money of P200 pesos,” the document stated.
De La Cerna added they have videos as part of their evidence, but it could only be presented during the trial. “Didto makita unsa gyud ug unsa ang nahitabo gyud (They will show what actually happened) at that time,” he said.
Sought for his comments, Tumulak denied the accusations, and said he is ready to answer the complaints lodged against him.
“Banua lied. I saved his life because when I got there, the barangay tanods told me that some of the bystanders surrounded him, about to maul him. I even ensured that he was alive,” said Tumulak.
He added that Banua was accompanied by three barangay tanods of Tejero, a police officer, and a driver inside the pickup truck that led them to CCMC after the incident last
Tumulak claimed he was on the vehicle’s carrier, and not inside with Banua while on their way to CCMC.
“God knows I’m telling the truth. I did not lay a finger on Banua, and even when we arrived at CCMC, the only stain he got was the blood from Calumba,” explained Tumulak.
Even if he was yet to receive a copy of the complaint, Tumulak said he was confident that the case would be dismissed.
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