Marikina police chief: We’re demoralized
On the surface, it’s business as usual Monday for the Marikina City police chief, Senior Supt. Vincent Calanoga, who has become the subject of a complaint from the city prosecutor’s office for alleged conduct unbecoming.
He graced the flag ceremony and a City Hall program honoring a recent donor of police equipment, and spent the rest of the morning doing paperwork and receiving reporters for interviews at his office.
Yet when asked about the move initiated against him by two prosecutors, whose offices are located just a floor above his, Calanoga admitted that the local police force was now “demoralized.”
Last week, in a letter addressed to Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman, City Prosecutor Jason Amante alleged that Calanoga “barged” into his office on Holy Monday, agitated over the dismissal of a complaint filed against a private motorist by a Marikina policeman who sustained serious injuries in a road accident late last year.
Lack of probable cause
The complaint was filed by PO1 Ivan Santos, who was on a motorbike when hit by a car driven by Homer Casco around midnight of Dec. 2 at the corner of Katipunan Avenue and Rainbow Street in Barangay Concepcion Uno. The officer, who was also on duty at the time of the accident, sued Casco for reckless imprudence resulting in physical injuries and damage to property, and for drunk driving.
But the complaint was dismissed for lack of probable cause in a March 12 resolution penned by associate prosecuting lawyer David Gadit Jr.
In dismissing Santos’ complaint, Gadit said the officer failed to attend the preliminary investigation and provide details about the accident.
Gadit also ruled that the accident report, prepared by SPO1 Robert Gonan also of Marikina police, as well as Gonan’s affidavit regarding the incident may be considered “hearsay [since] Gonan was not present prior to and during the collision.”
He also noted that the motorcycle driven by Santos was unregistered and had no license plate.
Also, Casco’s medical certificate showing he tested positive for alcohol in his breath was “highly suspicious.” The certificate was purportedly obtained from Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center.
“The questionable entry [on the presence of alcohol] was typewritten while the initial entries were computer printouts, and there was no explanation regarding the said entry,” Gadit said in his resolution. “Also, the physician or the one whose countersignature appears in the questionable entry was not presented to explain the said discrepancies.”
Then came the Holy Monday incident at Amante’s office.
In his letter to the mayor, Amante recalled: “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.”
Letter to PNP chief
Making his own move against Calanoga, Gadit wrote to the acting Philippine National Police chief, Director Leonardo Espina, to ask that the city police chief be immediately relieved of his post for “the ends of justice [to] be served without any influence or harm from him.”
Calanoga on Monday didn’t deny that he was agitated by Gadit’s resolution and that he had a heated exchange with Amante. He admitted that he went to see Amante to protest the dismissal of Santos’ case against Casco since he believed that “the appreciation of the evidence was one-sided.”
Calanoga said the issues raised by the prosecutor could have been clarified if the complainant’s superiors, including him, were called and allowed to explain.
He added that they felt betrayed—“parang nilaglag”—when public prosecutors already acted as judges “instead of helping us prepare our case.”
‘How will my men respect me?’
“As instruments of justice, if we can’t have it ourselves, how will the people respect us? How will my men respect me?”
He is ready to vacate his post but “I’m afraid that no one will help [Santos] should I be relieved,’’ he added.
The Inquirer tried to get Amante and Gadit’s side, but a staff member at Gadit’s office said they were in a Davao City conference.
Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Jose Fabian Cadiz came to Calanoga’s defense, saying it would be a “disservice” to the people of Marikina and a “victory for criminal elements” if he’s removed.
“I hope they would come to an agreement because we need to think of the welfare of the majority and not just of one or two individuals,” Cadiz said. “In the many times I joined him in [antidrug] operations, I saw that he was very effective in arresting drug syndicate leaders and their members.’’
He also described Calanoga as “very effective leader” and “a man of integrity [who] cannot be bought.’’
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