PRO 7 to hospitals: We are your partners

HOSPITALS should not be afraid of the police, an official said.

“Police investigators are not your enemies, we are your partners,” said Chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador Jr., the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 director.

Comendador, in an interview with reporters after the meeting, said he will form a group next week to formulate the memorandum of understanding, which will be reviewed by the health department for approval. Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division Chief Henry Biñas, a lawyer, will head the group.

Comendador spoke yesterday morning in a meeting with officials of some hospitals operating in Metro Cebu, investigators and government prosecutors, to address the problems often encountered by police when trying to interview suspects or victims who are confined in hospitals.

Quoting a medical official present during the meeting, Comendador said they need “coordination, cooperation, collaboration, communication and commitment” to address the problems.

The meeting, which was held at the conference room of PRO 7 headquarters, came after the incident last Friday when the homicide investigators from Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) were barred by the guards from entering the trauma center of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) to interview shooting victim Richard Esgana.

SPO2 Rommel Bancog, the team leader, said they wanted to get details from the victim so they can track down the suspect.

VSMMC’s chief of clinics Dr. Roque Anthony Paradela said Esgana, 33, was hypotensive and needed immediate medical attention.

“There was something wrong with his heart,” he said.

The physician told the police officials that the Department of Health’s emergency guideline states medical attention should be given right away to a patient.

“Our first priority is to save the life of the patient,” said Paradela.

He further said they are following a “work flow” at VSMMC when dealing with medico-legal cases and they are diligent in reporting these cases to the police. The reports are on their log book.

Homicide investigator SPO2 Ruth Bongo, however, contradicted the doctor’s claim, saying the public hospital is often not cooperative with them.

Bongo also complained about the guards prohibiting them from taking pictures of the suspect or victim, saying the pictures are form part of their evidence in filing complaints before the prosecutor’s office.

Also present in the meeting were representatives from the University of Cebu Medical Center.

Cebu City Prosecutors Liceria Rabillas and Ma. Luisa Ratilla, Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor Ruso Zaragosa, Mandaue City Prosecutor Bienvenido Mabanto and Cebu Provincial Prosecutor Pepita Jane Petralba also aired their concerns with some hospitals.

Petralba said complainants and police investigators from far-flung towns cannot file a complaint right away because they still have to wait for medical certificate from the doctor.

For his part, Mabanto said guards who bar the police from doing their duties can be held liable for obstruction of justice.

Dr. Mari Leo Pataray of VSMMC said they often experienced armed intelligence operative who enter the hospital in civilian clothes.

Comendador said members of intelligence units are not required to wear their uniforms all the time.

The police official said they will give to the hospitals the list of investigators.

“I hope we can have a common ground,” he said.

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