DON’T look at us.
The PNP Internal Affairs Service yesterday said it should not be blamed for the downgrading of the penalty of one of the four Pampanga “ninja cops” who got involved in another “ninja-type” operation in Antipolo City last May.
PNP-IAS Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo, in an interview over dzMM, said they recommended the dismissal of the seven police officers, including team leader Lt. Joven de Guzman, involved in the May 4 raid on the house of Arnold Gramaje Jr. in barangay Inarawan, Antipolo City where the cops allegedly carted away valuables amounting to P30,000.
PNP office-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, in a press conference on Monday, said De Guzman was only meted a 59-day suspension because he was charged with “less grave neglect of duty.”
Gamboa approved, though, the dismissal from service of M/Sgt. Donald Roque, M/Sgt. Rommel Vital, and Cpl. Romeo Encarnacion Guerrero Jr. and three other police officers involved in the case.
Roque, Vital, Guerrero, and De Guzman were part of the 13-man team which conducted a sham raid on a drug lord’s house in Mexico, Pampanga in November 2013.
Triambulo said that while De Guzman was charged with “less grave neglect of duty,” he was still meted the extreme penalty of dismissal from service.
“It was true that De Guzman was charged with less grave neglect of duty because he was the team leader. Under RA 8551 (the PNP Reform and Organization Act of 1998), a team leader will be investigated for command responsibility if his men were involved in illegal activities. So, the liability of the immediate supervisor, under the command responsibility rule, is less grave neglect of duty due to lapses in supervising his men,” Triambulo said.
But he stressed this should not have been the “controlling” offense for him to be penalized only with a 59-day suspension.
IAS said they recommended that all seven cops involved in the operation be dismissed from service as they were found guilty of the administrative charges of four counts of grave misconduct and serious irregularities in the performance of duty, and conduct unbecoming of an officer.
De Guzman, as team leader, was charged with less grave neglect of duty.
Because of the lesser grave neglect of duty charge, Gamboa said he downgraded De Guzman’s penalty to a mere 59-day suspension.
But Gamboa said he sent back De Guzman’s case to IAS for review, saying he wanted the unit to upgrade the penalty to grave misconduct.
“I received the folder last October 17, tapos pina-review ko kasi meron akong comment doon sa meted punishment, kasi ‘yung opisyal (De Guzman) was meted dismissal but he was only charged of less grave (offense). So hind pwede na na-charge siya ng less grave (offense) then during the resolution making ay bibigyan mo siya ng penalty na mabigat.
Not part of due process (I received the folder last October 17 and I had it reviewed because I have a comment on the meted punishment, because the official [De Guzman] was meted dismissal but he was only charged of less grave [offense]. So you cannot impose a graver penalty if he was only charged with less grave [offense]. That is not part of due process),” Gamboa said.
He added: “So hindi ko dinowngrade ‘yun ha. I want to be clear with that. Binigyan ko siya ng appropriate penalty for the charge which is less grave kaya 59 days suspension pero ‘yung pag-remand ko, he will be charged again but this time for a graver offense (I did not downgrade the penalty. I want to be clear on that. I only gave him an appropriate penalty for the charge which is less grave that’s why it was only 59 days suspension. But I remanded it to IAS so he will be charged again but this time for a graver offense).”
But Triambulo said it was not necessary for Gamboa to remand the case to them since IAS has already recommended De Guzman’s dismissal from service.
“Ang dapat lang doon ay baguhin lang niya ang decision at sundin niya ang sa IAS at hindi niya ibalik sa IAS kasi tapos na kami, ‘yan ang naging decision namin, at saka legal ‘yun dahil naka-base yun sa ruling ng SC at circular na ginagamit namin sa pag dispose ng kaso (What Gamboa should have done was to only follow IAS’ recommendation and not remand the case to us because we are through with the investigation. That’s why we came up with a recommendation to dismiss the seven cops. All of our recommendations were based on Supreme Court rulings and Napolcom circulars which we use to dispose cases like these),” Triambulo said.
Triambulo explained that as team leader of the seven cops who raided the house of Gramaje, De Guzman was not only charged with less grave neglect of duty but also with dishonesty and conspiracy.
“Ngayon kasi merong tayong rules na ‘yung charge,’ yung designation ng offense, hindi iyon ang controlling (offense)… Doon makikita natin sa complaint nakalagay ang kanyang acts of participation sa kanyang mga tauhan kaya sabi ng Supreme Court as long as nandiyan sa body… siya ay puedeng parusahan doon sa nakita nating evidence sa mga alegasyon sa body ng complaint (We have rules that the designation of offense is not the controlling offense… In the complaint we can see his acts of participation. That’s why the Supreme Court ruled that as long as the complaints are in the body, he can be charged based on the allegations in the body of the complaint),” he added.
He also said: “Alam naman natin na ang conspiracy ay the act of one is the act of all. Kaya ang recommendation namin na lahat ng respondents were found out na four counts of grave misconduct, less grave neglect of duty, at saka conduct unbecoming para sa lahat ‘yun, hindi lang specific sa apat, kasama na siya doon, ‘yun ang aming findings. (We all know that conspiracy is ‘the act of one is the act of all.’ That’s why we recommended that all seven respondents be charged with four counts of grave misconduct, less grave neglect of duty, and conduct unbecoming of an officer.)”
Triambulo said Gamboa, as a lawyer, may have forgotten the basic principles of the rules and regulations followed by IAS and the SC decision regarding such cases.
He said he was wondering why Gamboa had a different opinion on De Guzman’s case when it was clear in SC rulings and Napolcom circulars that a respondent may be handed the dismissal order even if he was charged with a lesser grave offense.
“In this case ni-review niya bilang lawyer, siguro nakalimutan lang niya ang basic principles at saka rules namin na in-adapt kaya ‘yun ang kanyang opinion. (Gamboa reviewed this case. Maybe he just forgot the basic principles and the rules the IAS has adopted, that why he had a different opinion),” Triambulo said.