BACOLOD CITY: Five police officers and three other members of Task Force Lawod were suspended for three months without pay over administrative complaint filed by personnel of a fishing vessel that they apprehended in 2014.
Ordered suspended were Police Supt. Gabriel Prietos Gutierrez; Senior Police Officer (SPO)1 Alfredo Chavez; Police Officer (PO)3 Onald Villa, PO2 Albert Juaneza and PO2 Dennis Capatar, all of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office; and Noel de la Cruz; Neil Francis Gepanago and Welman Mendones of the Provincial Environment Office.
Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices Cyril Ramos signed the order based on the complaint of boat captain Gerardo Alolod, chief engineer Noel Hilado and master fishermen Robert Despi of F/V Aqua King.
The complainants were apprehended on August 18, 2014, while fishing in waters between Guimaras Island and the southern part of Negros Occidental, for allegedly being within the 15-kilometer radius prohibited fishing zone.
They claimed that Gabriel and his companions ordered them to disembark from their boat and board the Navy vessel, while Chaves forced one Ramonito Villalon to operate F/V Aqua King and follow them.
Villalon navigated the vessel to Hinigaran shore where Villa, Juaneza, de la Cruz, Mendones, Gapango and two others boarded and indiscriminately searched the vessel.
Despi discovered two days after returning to the boat that the P50,000 kept in the cabin for the vessel’s emergency expenses was missing.
In a resolution, anti-graft investigators said the respondents committed qualified piracy; grave coercion and arbitrary detention for preventing other crew from leaving the vessel; and robbery for taking the P50,000 cash.
The respondents also committed administrative offenses for misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, abuse of authority, conduct unbecoming a public officer and gross ignorance of the law.
Eugene Y. Adiong