Fuente police say Chastity not among 14 kids rounded up in Easter
NO NAME IN PINK BLOTTER
Fuente police did round up street children on Easter Sunday — 14 of them according to a list in the “pink blotter” of the station.
But none of the names listed there mention Chastity Mirabiles, the 11-year-old child beggar, whose death the next day is being investigated as a case of alleged police brutality.
Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, chief of the Regional Investigation and Detection Management Branch, said his office is now identifying who were on on duty in the dawn hours of Easter Sunday, April 5.
He said Supt. Wildemar Tiu, the station chief, was the one who led the “rescue operation” of street children.
And contrary to police protocol to have a social worker present in the operation, there was none.
The “pink blotter” is a police record of cases involving women and children. Only officers in charge of the women’s desk can see it in order to safeguard the privacy and sensitivity of these cases.
Lawas said the initial denial of Supt. Tiu that minors were rounded up or maltreated in his station was complicated by the discovery that street children were indeed picked up that day and brought to the Fuente station.
Some of the children had their hair shaved off by the police.
“Mao na nga initial nga reply niya nga walay rescue operation. But when Inspector Otida made further verification didto sa pink blotter nakit-an didto nga naa diay rescue operation,”Lawas told reporters.
(That’s the thing. His initial reply was there was no rescue operation but when Inspector Otida made further verification in the pink blotter, it was shown that indeed there was a rescue operation.)
Inspector Arieza Otida, chief of the Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD) of the Cebu City Police, said she visited the Fuente station herself to check the “pink blotter”.
“There really was a blotter report. But when I checked, there was no name of Chastity. But even if there was none, we should go deeper in investigating this case,” said Otida to reporters.
Tiu was summoned to give his side but did not show up yesterday for a closed-door meeting of the Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC) at City Hall.
His deputy, OIC Insp. Sheila Gurtiza showed up instead and gave a copy of Tiu’s notarized affidavit and a memo authorizing his month-long vacation leave.
“Foremost, I vehemently deny all the accusations against me and my personnel at Police Station 2. These are all but exaggerated and maliciously concocted,” said Tiu in his sworn statement signed April 18, the day the story of Chastity’s death and allegations of maltreatment was reported in Cebu Daily News front page.
The allegations of police abuse were first raised by the Department of Social Services and Welfare of Cebu city based on the account of an 11-year-old child, who described being picked up with Chastity by the police and beaten up at the Fuente Station on Easter Sunday.
The child witness is now under the protection of the DSWS.
The death certificate issued by a police medico-legal officer said Chastity died as a result of “traumatic injuries to the trunk”. “On the issue of the death of minor CHASTITY MARAVILES, Police Station does not have any record of any apprehension or rescue of the said minor. It is very unfortunate that Chastity suffered an untimely death, however I and my personnel have no knowledge of the
circumstances surrounding her death,” Tiu said in his statement.
Tiu was also asked to explain why14 minors rounded up by the Fuente police station had their hair shorn off.
He said it was part of their Oplan Libod-Suroy program existing since 2010.
A case conference on April 16 was called by the DSWS who invited Tiu to come and explain his side. He didn’t attend; he sent a representative. The next day, April 17, a memo was sent by police superiors requiring Tiu to explain what happened.
Yesterday’s PCAC meeting presided by Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella was held behind closed doors.
Labella told reporters later that Inspector Gurtiza, the OIC, denied that the Fuente station detained Chastity on April 5, Easter Sunday.
“When asked by us, Gurtiza vehemently denied. She said that this Chastity – and I had it repeated by her for record – was never detained or brought to the Fuente precinct on April 5,”said Labella.
Gurtiza also showed a March 12 memorandum where National Police Commision (Napolcom) commissioner, vice chairman and executive officer Eduardo Escueta gave Tiu authority to travel abroad for 30 days with pay from April 20 to June 1.
Tiu’s affidavit was submitted to an investigating body formed by the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).
Tiu said he planned to go to the United States with his family for vacation.
Cebu City Police Chief Marciano Batiancela said the leave would not be recalled since Tiu had applied for it even before Batiancela assumed office in March.
Despite the repeated denials, DSWS head Dr. Ester Concha said she’s still not convinced.
“That’s why we keep the companion of Chastity, knowing there was no record.. I went there (Fuente police station) to get a copy of the blotter.. there was none.. I knew it’s easy to be denied,” said Concha, in a text message to CDN.
Concha aksed the vice mayor to help the family by providing them with legal assistance.
Vice Mayor Labella said he has asked the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City since they have a panel for free legal aid.
He said that since the CCPO, a member of the council, has formed its own fact-finding team for Chastity’s case, the council will leave them to do their work.
“It was agreed upon by PCAC that we will just require the PNP investigating body to submit to us a copy of their report,” he said.
Otida of the women’s desk said the Libod Suroy program was being carried out in the CCPCO in line with Cebu City’s Anti-Mendicacy Ordinance which started with City Hall’s “rescue” of night dwellers on the streets.
“Oplan Libod Suroy is actually not just a best practice of police station 2 but other police stations are also doing this with the coordination with a city social worker,” he said.
“In our office as we conduct the operation there is really a social worker or GAD (Gender and Development) focal person of the barangay during the rescue operation.. we have to communicate with them since they are concerned with the intervention programs of these kids,” she said.
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