3 police officials relieved

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Saturday, August 23, 2014


THREE police officials in Cebu City were relieved yesterday for allegedly using an impounded vehicle during police operations.

The three are Chief Insp. Noli Cernio, head of the Punta Princesa Police Station; Insp. William Alicaba, deputy chief of the Fuente Police Station; and Senior Insp. Elizandro Quijano of the Homicide Section of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

All three police officials were assigned at the Theft and Robbery Section (TRS) last year and were accused of using an impounded green Mitsubishi Lancer.

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They used the vehicle in TRS operations because their office has no patrol car.

‘Lame excuse’

“That is a very lame excuse for them to use an impounded vehicle. They can always borrow whatever vehicle we have in the headquarters,” explained CCPO Director Noli Romana.

Based on a blotter entry last October 2013, the vehicle was abandoned at the corner of Molave and Apitong Street in Barangay Lahug. No one has showed up to claim it since then.

Also yesterday, two personnel of the Land Transportation Office went to the CCPO impounding area to get a stencil of the vehicle’s chassis and engine number so they can trace its owner.

Romana said that among the three, Cernio committed a greater offense because he allegedly used the vehicle as a service vehicle.

“Mas mabuti nang silang tatlo ang marelieve to be fair (It’s better to relieve all three of them to be fair). Kasi (Because) based on reports, the vehicle was reportedly used during their stint (at the TRS),” he said.

Temporary posts

Cernio even allegedly brought the vehicle when he was transferred from the TRS to the Punta Princesa Police Station last July.

The report was based on a letter of a concerned citizen sent to Sun.Star Cebu and Sun.Star Superbalita columnist and GMA 7 broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro.

But in an interview last Thursday, Cernio denied using the vehicle as his personal service, although he admitted using it during police operations when he was still TRS chief.

Alicaba also admitted using the vehicle during his stint as TRS chief, but he said it was for a good purpose.

Alicaba said they used it during police operations and to ferry police personnel to court to file complaints against suspects because they didn’t have other vehicles.

“Willing ko moatobang sa investigation kay gigamit man na namo sa sakto nga pamaagi (I’m willing to face an investigation since I used the vehicle for an official operation),” he said.

Cernio, Alicaba and Quijano will be asked to report to the Administrative Holding area at the CCPO headquarters pending their investigation.

Alicaba was TRS chief last year. Quijano replaced him as officer-in-charge for a week earlier this year. Cernio became TRS chief last February before he was reassigned to head the Punta Princesa Police Station.

David Señor, the current TRS chief, said he knew nothing of the incident.

No replacements yet

Romana said he has yet to decide who to put in the posts left vacant by the three officials.

“It doesn’t mean na since they are relieved, guilty na agad sila (they’re already guilty). We are just relieving them from their post while the investigation is ongoing,” Romana.

Yesterday, Cernio went to the office of Romana to explain.

Romana, though, declined to give details about what transpired during their conversation.

The matter has also attracted the attention of the Police Regional Office 7, which wants the three officials investigated.

Chief Supt. Prudencio Tom Bañas, PRO 7 director, yesterday said they have a standing policy that prohibits police personnel from using impounded vehicles for whatever reason.

“Whether it was for official reason or not, it doesn’t justify, especially if the vehicle was found abandoned,” he said.

Due to their limited resources, such as vehicles used in police operations, the police director understands the predicament that his personnel has to deal with but that doesn’t warrant them from violating the rules.

Liability

Bañas said they will also look into the possible liability of the CCPO director under command responsibility if he knew what was going on.

Senior Supt. Edward Carranza, chief of PRO 7’s regional directorial staff, said it is common knowledge among police officers that using impounded vehicles is forbidden.

“It’s already known to everyone that we should not use it for personal use,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Cebu City Council has approved a resolution granting funds for the purchase of a vehicle for the TRS.

The purchase aims to help CCPO solve lawlessness in the city.

Romana had written Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, asking her to sponsor the resolution since TRS has no service vehicle.

The approved resolution has already reached the mayor’s office. The purchase will be made after a winning bidder is identified.

“I have always been supportive in equipping our police and that additional vehicle will help them,” said Mayor Michael Rama.

He said the TRS won’t have to use impounded vehicles as soon as the City gives it a Toyota Hi-lux for its operations.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2014.

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