PRESIDENT Duterte has taken cognizance of a few police officers and men who are taking advantage of the present national crisis brought about by the deadly COVID-19 virus to continue to extort money from hapless citizens and wants Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa to see to it that they will be fired from the service as soon as possible, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
Officials said that the Commander-in-Chief took notice of three policemen who were arrested for their involvement in robbery-extortion by agents of the PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group headed by Colonel Ronald O. Lee in separate entrapment operations in Quezon, Manila and Cebu cities.
The Journal Group learned that President Duterte has instructed Gen. Gamboa to see to it that the arrested policemen are dismissed from the service. The presidential directive also prompted Gen. Gamboa to remind all police regional directors and heads of national operational and administrative support units to continue policing their own ranks.
Paying tribute to majority of the police force who continue to act as ‘front-liners’ in the battle against COVID-19 while keeping the streets safe and secure 24/7, the PNP chief reminded his field commanders that their personnel should not take advantage of the situation but with more vigor that they should uphold the trends of excellent police service.
Gen. Gamboa ordered the PNP Internal Affairs Service to monitor the progress of the cases filed against the accused policemen and consider as ‘aggravating circumstance’ the fact that those arrested by the PNP-IMEG committed their offenses during the national crisis.
Following the instruction of the PNP chief, National Capital Region Police Office director, Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas ordered all his five district directors to remind their field commanders to continue supervising their personnel properly and ensure that those who will commit infractions will be subjected to pre-charge investigation and summary hearing procedures.
Lee earlier announced the arrest of two policemen in Metro Manila for their involvement in robbery-extortion amid the deadly COVID-19 threat.
In a report to Gen. Gamboa, the official said that one of the arrested policeman is Captain Josep Pedro Bocalbos,55, the Paz- Community-Precinct commander in Ermita, Manila who was accused of extorting money from local market vendors.
The officer and his cohort Joyce Sajines , 47, were arrested at 6 p.m. last Wednesday following complaints from market vendors in Ermita district who claimed they were being forced to shell out a daily P150 ‘tara’ or grease money for Bocalbos. Failure to do so would open them to harassment by the local police, the PNP-IMEG discovered.
“” Walang Covid Covid sa IMEG kapag ang huhulihin ay iskalawag,” the official said in announcing the arrest of the suspects during an entrapment operation inside the Paz PCP.
After validating the complaint, officers of the PNP-IMEG Luzon Field Unit launched the entrapment operation with the assistance of officers from the NCRPO Regional Intelligence Division/ Regional Special Operations Group and the Manila Police District -District Intelligence Division.
Bocalbos, who is set to retire soon denied the charges against him. He and Sajines are now being held at the PNP-IMEG lock-up facility in Camp Crame facing criminal charges.
Lee said that on the same afternoon, PNP-IMEG agents likewise arrested a personnel of the PNP Health Service’s Transport Section in Camp Crame in an entrapment operation in Quezon City.
The PNP-IMEG director identified the accused as Staff Sergeant Joel Zalun Bunugan, an ambulance driver of the PNP-HS who was accused of demanding money from police applicants who have flunked the PNP medical examination and promising them he will alter their test result.
The policeman was arrested after he received P100,000 in marked bills from a complainant inside the S & R Mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Fairview, Q.C.
On Tuesday last week, PNP-IMEG operatives also arrested Corporal Wenefredo Olongayo, a member of the Station Drug Enforcement Unit of the Waterfront Police Station in Cebu City for robbery-extortion. The suspect was caught in the act of receiving a brand-new refrigerator he demanded from the brother of a jailed drug offender. Also arrested during the sting was Olongayo’s civilian cohort.
Lee said that recovered during the sting was the brand-new air-conditioning unit being demanded by the policeman. Cpl. Olongayo was also stripped of his PNP-issued firearm and badge.
Since last February 27, PNP-IMEG arrested have already arrested 13 erring policemen, a dismissed policewoman and four civilians acting in cahoots with the rogue police personnel.
“We’re acting on all complaints being sent to our hotlines and are seeing to it that they will be immediately and thoroughly validated by our undercover officers prior to the conduct of actual entrapment operations,” said the member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Tanglaw Diwa’ Class of 1992.