Iloilo cop accuses Ombudsman of corruption; says sorry
MANILA, Philippines — A police officer from Iloilo City has apologized to the Office of the Ombudsman after he accused the body of corruption when his classmate, a fellow policeman, was suspended from service.
During a press briefing on Wednesday held by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos, Capt. Charlie Sustento apologized also to Ombudsman Samuel Martires himself, saying that he was not referring to the whole Office when he had an outburst regarding the suspension of Lt. Col. Jonathan Pinuela.
Sustento’s allegations against the Office of the Ombudsman apparently came after Pinuela was ordered suspended for six months, for a complaint against him regarding an election checkpoint in Dumangas town, Iloilo.
“I, Police Capt. Charlie Sustento Jr., would like to apologize to the Office of the Ombudsman and to Honorable Justice Samuel Martires, for my emotional outburst last January 20, 2022 during the media interview in Iloilo City,” Sustento said.
“It was never my intention to tarnish the Ombudsman as an institution that is considered as the defender of rights and protector of truth. Hindi po ibig sabihin na buong organization ng Ombudsman ang inaatake namin, gusto lang din po naming mabigyang linaw ang mga pinataw na suspension order kay Police Lt. Col. Pinuela who is my classmate,” he added.
(It is not our intention to attack the entire organization of the Ombudsman, we would just like to clear up the suspension given to Police Lt. Col. Pinuela who is my classmate.)
Sustento appealed to the Ombudsman to review the case, adding that they are willing to send out statements and cooperate with the investigation if needed.
According to the police officer, the suspension of Pinuela brought flashbacks of his own suspension — and dismissal from service — ordered by the Ombudsman, which was only reversed by the Court of Appeals which led to his recent reinstatement.
Sustento faced complaints for grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a police officer after pointing a gun at a civilian in 2017 — which he maintains was only part of a legitimate police operation. After the Court of Appeals reversed his dismissal, he was demoted one rank lower — down to being a police captain.
“The said outburst is a result of a seemingly unjustified decision against a good friend, a classmate, and an accomplished police officer, Lt. Col. Jonathan Pinuela who was suspended for six months after conducting a checkpoint as part of a campaign towards an honest, credible election in Dumangas, Iloilo last 2019,” he explained.
“His suspension came as a shock considering that I too, was a victim of such injustice. Hindi lingid sa kaalaman ng mga Ilonggo na kakabalik ko lang sa serbisyo matapos madismiss din ng Office of the Ombudsman last 2017 dahil sa isang maliit na reklamo na bungad ng police legitimate operation din. Human as I am, I was deeply disappointed by my dismissal,” he added.
(Not every Ilonggo knows that I just got reinstated in the service recently after being dismissed also by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017 because of a shallow complaint brought by a legitimate police operation.)
PNP chief Carlos said prior to Sustento’s apology, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed the PNP to identify why the police officer made the accusation and address the concerns of the Ombudsman.
Carlos said he immediately went to Iloilo and brought Sustento and Pinuela with him as early as Monday night.
“We called for this press briefing on an apologetic note, to express our highest respect to the Ombudsman, particularly to the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices, over the statement made by two of our officers in Iloilo last January 20,” Carlos said.
“I was given instruction by the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, and to immediately address the concern of the Ombudsman, which I told the Secretary that I am heading for Iloilo, to personally talk to our two officers concerned. So there was also a letter sent to us by the Ombudsman pertaining to the statement made by the two police officers, and they are here with us today,” he added.
The country’s top cop also clarified that Sustento’s statements were not reflective of the PNP’s stand, adding that they respect the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman.
“These statements made by Lt. Col. Jonathan Pinuela and Capt. Charlie Sustento Jr. during their presscon in Iloilo were purely an expression of their personal views and opinions, and do not reflect any official policy or action of the PNP,” Carlos noted.
“I believe, after talking to them, that a public apology is in order. The Office of the Ombudsman deserves all the respect as an institution that promotes good governance and proper behavior among workers in the bureaucracy. As such, I cannot afford (it) to be tainted and malign with serious accusations that will affect its integrity,” he added.
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