Prosecutor seeks ouster of Marikina police chief
MANILA, Philippines – Over the Lenten break, the Marikina prosecutor’s office sent letters to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Mayor Del de Guzman asking for the relief of the city police chief, Senior Supt. Vincent Calanoga, for his alleged “unbecoming conduct.”
The complaint against Calanoga by City Prosecutor Jason Antonio Amante stemmed from an incident when he “barged” into the latter’s office on Holy Monday, after receiving a copy of the resolution dismissing a traffic case involving one of the police chief’s men.
In a letter addressed to De Guzman, and copy furnished to the PNP, Department of Justice and Office of the Ombudsman, Amante reported Calanoga’s “unbecoming conduct” as chief of police.
“I was inside my office and I was caught by surprise when Chief of Police Vincent Calanoga suddenly and without any prior appointment barged into my room followed by some of his junior police officers,” Amante said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.
“Upon entering my office, he was so agitated and (speaking) at the top of his voice, he was protesting the resolution of Associate Prosecuting Attorney David Gadit Jr. wherein the complaint of [PO1] Ivan Santos against a certain Homer Casco II for reckless imprudence resulting in physical injuries and damage to property was dismissed,” Amante added.
Santos, who was on duty on Dec. 2, 2014, suffered foot and head injuries when his motorcycle was hit by Casco’s car at around 1:10 a.m. at the corner of Katipunan and Rainbow Streets in Barangay Concepcion Uno.
In a resolution dated March 12, Gadit dismissed the case for lack of probable cause. Among the reasons cited for the dismissal of the case was that Casco’s medical certificate from the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center was “highly suspicious.” The certificate indicated that Casco tested positive for alcohol breath in type-written form.
“The questionable entry was typewritten while the initial entries were computer print-outs, and there was no explanation regarding the said entry,” Gadit said in the resolution.
Four months since the incident, Santos has not reported for work and is still on crutches.
Calanoga, who learned of the move to boot him out of office on Good Friday, denied that he barged into the prosecutor’s office.
“Gadit’s office has no door so you can just enter it. On the other hand, I couldn’t have barged into Amante’s office because I was invited by [lawyer] Ricardo Paet to go inside,” Calanoga told the Inquirer.
He said that he went to Amante to protest the resolution dismissing Santos’ case against Casco. He claimed that “the appreciation of the evidence was one-sided.”
In his version of the story, Calanoga said that he was told to just go to Amante since Gadit wasn’t in his office.
“[Amante’s] first remarks weren’t pleasing. He told me that if I had any complaints on the resolution, I should write an MR (motion for reconsideration) … that I could not question the prosecutor’s findings,” Calanoga said.
He added that they felt they were thrown under the bus when the prosecutors, as government lawyers, acted as judges, “instead of helping us prepare our case.”
Calanoga also denied rumors that he went berserk inside the prosecutor’s office. He said that he accidentally hit a coffee mug in Gadit’s office when he “fell out of balance.”
He added that it was Amante who received them with a “high-pitch voice,” giving the impression that “he didn’t want us to go there to clarify [matters].
Courtesy and respect
“[As partners] in the criminal justice system, we expect that they would extend to us some courtesy and respect,” Calanoga said.
In a separate letter to PNP officer in charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, Gadit said Calanoga’s “bully tactic has no place in this civilian society.”
Meanwhile, over a hundred motorcycle riders and members of the Barangay Peace Action Team, the Marikina police’s force multipliers, motored around the local police headquarters Sunday night to show their support for Calanoga.
In a 30-minute program at the Freedom Park, Marikina Motorcycle Riders Federation chair Rod Cruz said that it was natural for Calanoga to feel disappointed when one of his men did not get justice for what happened to him.
He added that the turnout of Calanoga’s supporters was a testament that his campaign against crime was appreciated by Marikina residents.
“It is only in movies where you see people rally behind the police. The Marikina residents’ faith in the police was restored because of the programs he initiated; that’s why he is loved,” Cruz said of Calanoga.
Cruz said that they also launched a signature campaign aimed at gathering 3,000 signatures from Marikina residents, which they would present to the PNP and the mayor’s office if Calanoga was forced out of office.
“It increases our morale and warms my heart to see that the people trust the local police,” Calanoga said.
Calanoga’s supporters, who closed their short program by lighting candles and singing the Marikina City hymn, are expected to show up at the city’s Monday morning (Apr. 6) flag ceremony to rally behind the embattled local police chief.
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