7 COPS RELIEVED
Seven Cebu City police intelligence agents were disarmed and relieved from their posts yesterday amid claims of extortion and the questionable release of two suspected drug traders following an anti-drug operation in Barangay Duljo Fatima on Sunday.
Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos, acting director of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), announced the relief of PO3 Robert Escarlan, PO3 Roy Ryan Cavalida, PO2 Arnulfo Reglamos, PO2 Dennis Mosqueda, PO2 Manuel Paez III, PO1 Perceival Eborlas and PO1 Ansar Madtahil.
All are members of the CCPO’s City Intelligence Branch (CIB).
Santos, in a text message sent to Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, the deputy regional director for operations of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said the seven policemen were placed under camp restriction pending investigation and would be temporarily assigned as “augmented force for beat patrol” in the city.
Lawas said the fate of the seven policemen would depend on the result of the investigation to be conducted by the City Investigation and Detection Management Branch (CIDMB). Lawas said the policemen’s immediate superiors would also be investigated, as they have to explain why their subordinates are linked to extortion activities involving drug suspects.
Supt. Palaleo Pascual Addag, the CIB chief, said he has been on paternity leave for a week now and knew nothing of the incident. “Of course, we will investigate.
We will not tolerate this act. Though I am just new in the position, those who need to be apprehended should be apprehended,” he said when reached by phone on Tuesday.
Addag assumed the post only last Jan. 9, replacing Supt. Romeo Santander.
Last Sunday, the seven policemen raided a suspected drug den in Barangay Duljo-Fatima and arrested three men but only Lito Paculanang, 18, a native of Negros Oriental, was detained.
In the police blotter, it was recorded that the operation yielded seven small packs of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) from Paculanang.
On Monday morning, however, a radio reporter received a text message from an unknown tipster that two of the suspects were freed after paying P75,000 each to the arresting policemen.
The text message was passed on to other Cebu reporters and was later brought to the attention of Lawas, who immediately ordered an investigation.
Paculanang, who is currently detained at the CCPO detention cell, yesterday confirmed that two men, whom he identified as cousins Christian Pardillo and Mervin
Pardillo, were arrested along with him but the two were released soon after.
“We were brought to the (CIB) office. We were asked to choose which of us will get detained but then the two cousins did not want to spend their time in jail,” said Paculanang in Cebuano.
He said he then saw some of the CIB policemen talking to the Pardillo cousins and another person, whom he suspected to be the cousins’ “boss” and they appeared to be negotiating with the policemen. After which, he said, the Pardillos were released.
Paculanang also claimed before leaving the Pardillo cousins, whom he described to be his friends, assured him that they would return to post bail so he would also be released.
“I was promised that they will pay for my bail so I can be free,” he said in Cebuano.
But they never came back, he said.
Paculanang insisted he was not a drug peddler and was only buying three small packs of shabu when the police arrived. Santos yesterday told Cebu Daily News that he has ordered a group of city policemen to find the Pardillo cousins and verify the allegations of extortion.
“We have to find the two suspects (who were) released to get their statements. They would form part of the pending investigation,” agreed Lawas.
It was not the first time that operatives of CIB were accused of protecting drug peddlers.
Santander had previously complained about police officers possibly leaking information about their anti-illegal drug operation against suspected big time drug pusher Jeffrey Diaz, alias ‘Jaguar’.
During a raid on a suspected drug lair owned by Diaz in Barangay Duljo-Fatima in September last year, operatives only found elderly residents and other occupants of the compound, which has its own basketball court and chapel. Around P4-million worth of drugs was seized but Diaz was nowhere to be found.
Santander launched an investigation to unmask the policeman who might have betrayed them but has been unable to identify the culprits.
Since the failed operation to get Diaz, Santander has required his operatives to leave behind their cellphones before departing to implement drug raids.
Lawas, meanwhile, said they would continue to investigate who could have alerted Diaz, enabling the drug lord to escape before the raiding team arrived.
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