FIVE rookie police officers assigned in Talisay City will be facing an investigation after they were caught taking a “selfie” while conducting an inventory of illegal drugs they confiscated in a buy-bust last Saturday, Jan. 5.
The names of the five police officers have been withheld for investigation purposes, said Senior Supt. Manuel Abrugena, Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) director.
Abrugena said starting Monday, Jan. 7, the five police officers have been reassigned to the CPPO’s Personnnel Holding and Accounting Unit (PHAU).
The five could face possible administrative charges, including a surrender of their service firearms while they undergo investigation, Abrugena said.
Their superior, Talisay City Police Chief Supt. Marlu Conag, said it was unfortunate that it had to happen to his men especially that their selfie was published by the local media without blurring them.
“I am sad that my hardworking operatives learned the hard way. Too trusting din kasi ang police natin sa media ngayon. The picture was published by media without blurring the face of the operatives,” Conag said, in a text message to SunStar Cebu.
Abrugena reprimanded the five police officers after he saw their selfie online.
He said that what they did was improper as they put their colleagues in a very risky situation.
Based on police procedure, operatives of Drug Enforcement Units shouldn’t publicize their identities as it would risk revealing their operations.
Their discretion would also protect them from retaliation from those involved in illegal drug operations, Abrugena said.
“Bawal yan, because it might affect the integrity of our police operations and the security of our operatives pertaining sa nag ooperate sa drugs. Kaya yan sila di naka-uniporme kase mga operatiba natin yan. Ngayon, kung makikita sa social media yung pagmumukha nila, ma burned out yung identities (That’s why they’re not in uniforms because they are our operatives on drugs. Now if their faces are shown on social media, it will revealt their identities),” Abrugena said.
But Abrugena said police operatives can still take pictures during their operations, but only of their subjects and the evidence they recover.
The five relieved police officers were part of those who replaced 40 of their older colleagues who were relieved by Police Regional Office 7 Director Chief Supt. Debold Sinas last year.
But Conag defended his operatives, adding that they were able to net a high-profile drug suspect when the selfie was made.
Conag, however, said his personnel should treat the experience as a lesson.
“That’s why I said they learned the hard way and they must be professional to accept it and me advice to them is that it would not deter them from performing their job but a lesson learned na hindi na dapat,” Conag added. (From AYB of SuperBalita Cebu, JKV)