Fuente chief on vacation
Will police chief attend City Hall inquiry today?
Street kid Chastity died due to ‘traumatic injuries to trunk’
What kind of beating caused the death of 11-year-old child beggar Chastity Mirabiles?
Why was she detained in the Fuente police station in the dawn hours of Easter Sunday the day before?
These questions will be asked today by the Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC) led by Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella at City Hall but the head of the Fuente precinct has just started his “vacation”.
Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu, chief of the Fuente police station, started his vacation leave yesterday and will be away for at least one month.
He was no longer around when Cebu Daily News visited yesterday.
OIC, Insp. Sheila Gurtiza, deputy chief who was left in charge of the Fuente station, said Tiu had applied for a one-month vacation leave long before, and plans to bring his family abroad for a holiday.
Vice Mayor Labella didn’t know about that when CDN asked him. He immediately instructed his staff to use all means to contact Tiu, by phone, a personal visit, or whatever it takes.
“Anyway, if he won’t appear, that won’t stop us from continuing the inquiry on the issue. With more reason, in fact, (we will proceed),”said Labella.
He said the police official risks being viewed as making a hasty flight from a potential criminal case.
Tiu, in an interview last Friday, told CDN the charge was a product of “imagination”. He denied that the Fuente station was involved in the child’s death.
The case only became public two weeks after Chastity died following a case conference with the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), where Tiu was invited to give his side. He didn’t show up; he sent a representative.
The DSWS is protecting another 11-year-old child, a witness, who told them that she and Chastity were picked up and brought to the Fuente station. The child described physical abuse in police custody, said Ester Concha, head of DSWS.
CAUSE OF DEATH
What’s hard to deny is that Chastity was a victim of violence.
The death certificate of the little girl, whom social workers said was picked up as part of a “Libot Suroy” police roundup on April 5, states the cause of her death was “traumatic injuries to the trunk”.
No other details were mentioned in the certificate prepared by Chief Inspector Felino Brunio, medico legal officer of Camp Sotero Cabahug, headquarters of the Cebu City police.
The little girl was begging on the street with her mother Noemi when the child was picked up about 2 a.m. and brought to the Fuente police station, according to the social work office.
Chastity’s grandfather, Renate Mirabiles, 52, yesterday showed a copy of the death certificate to the media.
He wanted to prove that the grade 4 pupil did not die of “dengue or heat stroke” as the family was told by a physician at the Cebu City Medical Center, where the child was brought as an emergency case after she collapsed on the street at noon of April 6.
“Mureklamo jud ko nga gikulata ang akong apo, pasaka jud mi (I will really complain that my granddaughter was mauled. We will bring this to court),” said Renato.
Chastity’s grave in Calamba cemetery will be dug up and the body exhumed for an autopsy on Wednesday.
The autopsy will be done by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 at the request of the grandfather, a former barangay tanod.
Tiu’s female deputy, Fuente station OIC, Insp. Gurtiza, said the staff felt bad about adverse publicity on the case.
“Nagstorya mi ni sir Tiu, ingon siya nako nga dili jud to niya mabuhat sa bata. Karon nga nigawas na murag na generalize naming tanan, nga in fact nagtinarong rami sa amoang serbisyo isip mga pulis. Wala miy binuhatan nga ingon ana,” she told CDN.
(I talked with Sir Tiu. He told me he could never do that to a child. When the reports came out, it’s as if the offense was generalized and we were all judged, when in fact, we have been doing our job true to the police service. We would never do an offense like that.”)
She said the precinct conducted its own investigation, but that she was not at liberty to disclose the findings.
She said supterintendent Tiu was also issued a notice by the Cebu city police chief to explain his side last April 17, and that Tiu denied any wrongdoing.
Gurtiza said publicity over the incident has damaged the police as most people have judged them on based on what was reported in the press.
Last Friday, when CDN first learned about the Chastity’s death after a case conference was called, which Tiu failed to attend, the paper asked Tiu about it.
He said the allegations were a product of “imagination”.
He said his policemen care about street children, as most of them are found in his area along the Fuente Osmeña Circle, General Maxilom Avenue and Osmeña Boulevard.
At the Police Regional Office, superiors are still waiting for a complaint to be filed.
“Once we get the specific complaint, we will use this as basis for an investigation. If we can have a copy of the death certificate to determine the cause of death, we will study it. I assure you if police officers are responsible, we will not cover for them,” said Chief Supt. Prudencio Bañas to reporters yesterday.
He said he only read about the case in the newspapers and heard about it on radio.
“We start with our own people, if there is a shortcoming on our part, we first correct the people within the organization. How can we perform our duties properly if we are guilty of violations within the organization. That’s my stand,” Bañas said.
He said the presence of street children involved in petty crimes is an old problem in Cebu City especially in the Mango Avenue area and Fuente Circle.
He said several street kids victimize foreign tourists.
“Our constraint is that… there are not enough facilities for street children. As early as possible turn over to DSWD or put them in a room where they can be secured,” said Bañas.
He said the problem goes back to the “failure of the family” as a basic unit of society.
“We have to help each other here. We can’t just pinpoint kung sino may kasalanan, problema ito ng syudad,” said Bañas. /with Pearl Anton, Xavier University Intern
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