LUCENA City -- The Quezon Police Provincial Office ordered the relief of a town police commander and members of the drug enforcement unit following the arrest of three policemen and their four “tipsters” involved in kidnapping-extortion.
Quezon police director Col. Audie Madrideo said he signed the relief orders of Candelaria police chief Lt. Col. Jezreel L Calderon, and all the drug enforcement unit personnel to give way to an impartial investigation and ensure the ongoing probe will not be influenced.
Madrideo said the relieved police officers were temporarily assigned at Quezon Personnel and Holding and Accounting Section (PHAS).
The order was triggered by a raid conducted by the Philippine National Police Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP-IMEG), the Quezon Provincial Intelligence Branch, 82nd SAC Soecial Action Force, Regional Special Operations Group and the 1st Quezon Mobile Force Company at the safehouse of Police Staff Sergeants Alvin Dimaranan and Samuel Merluza and Patrolman John Paul Faulmani and civilian “assets” Nelson Ravelo, Jessica Alcantara, Reggie De Chavez and Nino Gabia Plata.
The operation also resulted in the rescue of kidnap victim Howard Kim Calingasan Hernandez, 29, of Purok 7, Brgy Malabanban Sur, Candelaria, Quezon and the seizure of illegal drugs and assorted unlicensed firearms inside the safehouse.
In an earlier operation by the joint team, Plata was arrested while making withdrawals from the ATM account of Oliver Balahadia, another kidnap victim of the suspects who was earlier released after paying P80,000.
After getting information from Plata, the operation team raided the safehouse where a brief shootout ensued.
The cops eventually gave up but two other policemen -- Police Staff Sergeants Joseph Francis Benedict and Rexter Cantos -- managed to escape.
However, this morning the two police officers, accompanied by their legal counsel, surrendered to Madrideo to explain their side.