Town police probed over hostage crisis
ILOILO CITY—The Philippine National Police in Iloilo province relieved the chief of police of Estancia town after an illegal drug suspect held hostage the station’s civilian employees last week.
But the suspect, Rommel Albor, was killed in a shootout with policemen following the four-hour hostage drama on June 23.
Aside from relieving Insp. Samuel Daguro, the Iloilo police office also placed the 25-member municipal police force under investigation on Friday for possible administrative lapses and liabilities.
Chief Insp. Johnny Tumambing replaced Daguro, who was transferred to the provincial police headquarters in Sta. Barbara town.
Chief Insp. Aron Palomo, provincial police spokesperson, said a team of investigators would determine why only three non-uniformed personnel were at the station when Albor, who was wearing a bullet proof vest and armed with two shotguns, a .45 cal. pistol and two grenades, arrived.
“We would look into why not one uniformed personnel was at the station. There should be at least the duty-on-guard present,” Palomo told the Inquirer.
He said seven to eight policemen should be on duty at any given time.
Albor held hostage Michelle Parcon, Mark Gumban and John Gabriel Casibual from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. He also ordered them to release five detainees at the station, police said.
Albor was was killed in a shootout with policemen near the Estancia Central Elementary School, where he ran from the police station.
The station is located at the town hall of Estancia, about 154 kilometers northeast of Iloilo City.
Albor, a suspected member of a group trading illegal drugs, abducted Jerome Gelvezon at the neighboring town of Balasan before he and Gelvezon proceeded to Estancia.
He cuffed Gelvezon’s wrist to his to ensure that he would not flee.
Palomo said Albor held Gelvezon due to an unpaid stash of illegal drugs.
Gelvezon and SPO2 Richard Rufino were wounded in the shootout.
Palomo said Albor also wanted to free one of his companions, John Paul Santos, who was detained at the Estancia police station.
“[Albor] was angry at the Estancia police because they detained one of his companions and were conducting operations against his group,” Palomo said.
In radio interviews, the police’s civilian employees said Albor posted a message addressed to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte using Gumban’s Facebook account.
In that message, Albor warned that his group would harm civilians if the police would not stop its operations against suspected illegal drug dealers.
Palomo said some of the town’s policemen left the station because they went to Balasan to check reports of an abduction, which turned out to be the case involving Albor and Gelvezon. The detainees who were earlier released on orders of Albor were returned to their cell after the shootout.
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