Ex-Toledo poll officer briefly detained, then freed over documents
CEBU CITY — The Toledo City police released at 4 a.m. Wednesday the former election officer of the city, lawyer Michael Anthony Sarno, after he was cleared of suspicion that he stole vital documents from the city’s election office.
Supt. Samuel Mina Jr., Toledo City police chief, clarified that Sarno was not arrested but was only invited for questioning after he was seen entering the election office around midnight of Tuesday, and then leaving the building before 1 a.m. Wednesday, while carrying some documents that he brought to his car.
Rosseller Layan, 28, a resident of Barangay Poblacion with a house just a walking distance from the city’s Commission on Elections (Comelec) office, saw Sarno and immediately reported the matter to the cops at the police station just meters away from the Comelec office.
Layan is a known supporter of Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña, who is seeking reelection in May as an independent candidate.
Mina said they brought Sarno to the station as supporters of Osmeña and his opponent for the mayoral race, Aurelio Espinosa, began to gather outside the Comelec office.
Mina said he immediately informed the current city election officer, lawyer Galardo Escobar, about the problem. Escobar went to the police station and verified that the documents taken by Sarno were not related to the coming national and local elections on May 9 and were just private files.
Escobar took over from Sarno only two weeks ago. Sarno has been re-assigned to Cebu City as part of the nationwide reshuffle of election officers usually done by the Comelec prior to the holding of elections.
Sarno’s private vehicle, a silver SUV, was also opened and thoroughly checked with the consent of Sarno and in the presence of the supporters of Osmeña and Espinosa, said Mina.
Sarno was able to leave afterwards, added Mina. SFM
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