STILL reeling from an embarrassing incident, the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) is tightening the noose on visiting regulations governing the city’s 10 police precincts.
The unlimited visiting hour policy will now be cut down to nine hours a day, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., said City Police Director Benedicto B. Lopez.
Lopez said the new policy, which took effect Monday, will also cover the Maharlika Detention Cell inside Cocpo headquarters in Barangay Carmen.
While suspects should not be deprived of their rights, “it is also the moral obligation of Cocpo not to compromise the intents of the complainants seeking justice for the misdeeds committed against them,” Lopez said in a directive issued to police station commanders.
“Utmost security is necessary to protect the rights of the suspects, to give justice to its complainants/victims and to uphold the integrity of this office,” he said.
Lopez acknowledged that suspects “find moral support from their families” who visit them in the cells.
However, the unlimited visitation policy was impossible to maintain because of the “limited manpower of the police office and less sophisticated facilities.”
The entire local police suffered humiliation when five have escaped from the Police Station 3 in Agora.
Initial version from the station’s policemen said armed men swooped down the precinct and freed the suspects, who have pending cases ranging from theft to robbery.
Four of the prisoners, Benjamin Salvo Longakit, 19; Marvin Bueno Espinosa, 18; Raymund Lasay Castillo and Eliton Mayuman Rivera, 18, yielded to the police on the same day they escaped.
It was the suspects who belied the police version of the incident, saying they were freed not by armed men but by their unarmed friends, who had the opportunity to do so because the lone police guard was playing computer games.
The incident led to the relief of Police Inspector Wylen Rojo, Agora Police Station commander.
PO2 Rodrigo Reyes, whom suspects said was busy playing ‘Plants versus Zombies’, is being investigated for negligence.
Lopez said administrative cases will be filed against Reyes.
The fifth suspect, Reymart Mendoza, 16, remains at large as of this posting. (Annabelle L. Ricalde)