PNP reiterates need to account for guns, badges of suspended, dismissed cops

CONCERNED Philippine National Police officials have been told anew to strictly and immediately account for the service firearm and badge of any of their suspended or dismissed subordinate to prevent the possibility that these PNP properties may be used anew to commit abuses or crimes.

Under the principle of command responsibility, the immediate superior of an erring cop who fails to confiscate his firearm and badge once he has been suspended or dismissed from the force will be fully made accountable by PNP higher-ups.

The PNP leadership headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde likewise ordered police commanders to exert all efforts to locate police personnel who are on AWOL or dropped from rolls and recall his or her issued firearms, badge and identification card pursuant to a memorandum circular from the National Police Commission.

The PNP High Command issued the directive amid a number of incidents in which suspended  or dismissed policemen who were arrested for involvement in criminal activities and other cases of grave misconduct were found still using their badge and PNP-issued firearms.

There were also past cases in which some erring policemen were found to have allegedly ‘pawned’ their service pistols to friends and neighbors. In one incident, officers who made a successful anti-narcotics operation in Mimaropa region were surprised to recover a police-issued gun to one of the arrested drug traffickers who claimed he got it from a policeman-friend.

In Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar called anew on his officials to strictly account for service firearms and badges of rogues in uniform who have been dismissed or suspended or facing criminal and administrative charges.

The move is aimed at preventing scalawags  from using their service pistols and badges to harass or intimidate complainants against them or engaging in criminal activities that tend to embarrass the  organization.

Last week, Eastern Police District director, Chief Superintendent Christopher E. Tambungan  ordered the arrest of two former EPD personnel: AWOL Police Officer 3 Fernando Usita and PO3 Jesus de la Cruz for their failure to turn over their EPD-issued firearms which prompted the filing of charges for malversation of government property against them.

Usita was arrested last Monday for his failure to return his issued Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol after being marked AWOL in 2017 while de la Cruz was arrested at the Quezon City Police District Station 12 where he is already assigned for his failure to return his service M-16 automatic rifle.

Tambungan  said Usita was arrested by a team of EPD District Intelligence Unit led by Supt. Hendrix Mangaldan who monitored him applying for reinstatement into the police force.

Two days later, EPD agents in coordination with the QCPD Station 12 arrested de la Cruz on the strength of a warrant of arrest for violation of Article 217 or the Revised Penal Code or malversation of government property issued by the Mandaluyong City Municipal Trial Court 209 following his failure to return his issued M-16 automatic rifle despite due notices and summons since 2009.

A few years ago, a dismissed cop named Police Officer 1 Walter Valdez killed his 65-year old mother before turning the gun on himself inside their house in Tondo, Manila. It turned out that Valdez’ superiors failed to confiscate his service firearm aftert he was already been fired from the force.

According to PNP spokesman, Senior Supt. Bernard M. Banac, all 17 police regional directors and chiefs of the different PNP national support units are under orders to file administrative charges against any of their men who have been dismissed or are serving preventive suspension should they fail to surrender their PNP-issued firearms, badges and other government properties.

At present, there is a very strict policy regarding the ‘surrender or deposit of government property’ by members of the police force who have been fired from the service or are serving their preventive suspension, under restrictive custody or have been dropped from the rolls or DFR.

The policy was issued amid reports that guns issued by the PNP to dismissed, suspended or under restrictive custody policemen ‘are being used illegally by said personnel to commit offenses/crimes during the period owing to the failure of authorized superior officer to take custody or control of said government issued property and or failure or refusal by the concerned personnel to surrender or deposit the same during the period.

Thus, police were reminded that failure or refusal to surrender or deposit a service firearm, badge, identification card and police vehicle to a superior officer upon demand during the period of suspension of a PNP member constitutes grave misconduct or grave neglect of duty which is punishable by the law.