Ombud asked to form Task Force Chastity
The Visayas Ombudsman’s Office was asked yesterday to lead the investigation into the death of 11-year-old street child Chastity Mirabiles.
“Too many agencies” are doing their own probes, said Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, who wrote to Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente.
Labella, a former Ombudsman director, asked the anti-graft official to “take charge of the investigation” and form a task force so the inquiry would be “objective”, orderly and “ultimately restore citizen’s trust in the city’s police.”
Chastity, a child beggar was picked up by the Fuente station police in a roundup of street children on Easter Sunday dawn. She collapsed on the street and died the next day.
Social workers in City Hall said Chastity was allegedly mauled in the police station, where she and another 11-year-old street child were detained for several hours before their release later in the morning.
The complaint of police brutality has put the Fuente police station and its commander Chief Inspector Wildemar Tiu on the spot even as they deny having apprehended the girl.
An autopsy by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) showed that Chastity died of “traumatic blunt injuries” in her chest, abdomen and arm.
The child’s mother Noemi Mirabiles and grandfather have given their statements to the NBI-7 and the PNP Women and Children Protection Desk.
Other inquiries have started by the Commission on Human Rights, the city’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), the PNP Regional Investigation and Detection Management Branch and its Cebu city counterpart.
The Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC) headed by Vice Mayor Labella received the complaint from the DSWS last Monday, but said it would wait for the result of the police inquiry.
The picture got more complicated, however, when the Fuente police started looking for their own witnesses and said they suspect the child’s step father, a trisikad driver, was the one who beat up Chastity.
Mayor Michael Rama has called for the relief of the entire Fuente police station team.
In his letter, Vice Mayor Labella invoked Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of the Philippines where section 5 states that the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over public officials.
It said the Ombudsman has the power to “ investigate and prosecute on its own any public officer or employee, office or agency when such act or omissions are deemed illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.”
Labella said even the PNP, as a public office, is under the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
In an interview, the vice mayor said that if all offices get their act together and form a task force, it would be “easier, more convenient and there is no possibility of a conflict in their individual findings.”
Supt. Marciano Batiancela, Cebu city police chief, said he has no problem with having the Ombudsman take charge.
He agreed with the suggestion of a task force and said the city police would cooperate with other agencies.
“If they want our cooperation, we will give it,” he said.
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