Northern Mindanao police chief relieved over 2012 cases

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    PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday relieved the chief of the Police Regional Office 10 (Northern Mindanao) for the latter to serve a six-month suspension slapped on him for a case filed in 2012.

    Gamboa said the delay in the implementation of the suspension against Brig. Gen. Rafael Santiago was due to procedural bureaucracy.

    Gamboa said that since Santiago was a third-level official or a presidential appointee, his suspension had to be first reviewed and approved by Malacañang before the PNP can implement it.

    Third level officials are those with ranks of full-fledged colonel up to general.

    In cases where these officials are suspended or sanctioned, the PNP has to seek permission first from the Office of the President if it will file charges against the erring officials. Once approved, the third level officials will be tried by the PNP and the decision will to be sent back to Malacañang for review and approval before it goes back to the PNP for implementation.

    Santiago’s suspension order stemmed from a complaint filed by the PNP way back in 2012 in connection with 30 electronic bikes worth P45,000 each, Kevlar helmets and vests, rifles, and computers sets owned by the Zambales Police Provincial Office which went missing under his watch in 2010.

    Santiago was likewise accused of mishandling evidence that he and his men confiscated from a mining company in Zambales also during his stint as provincial director. Among the evidence that went missing were ammonium nitrate, detonation cords, a 12-gauge shotgun, and sacks of explosives which were confiscated from the Coto Mining Corp accused of illegal mining.

    Santiago was recommended for dismissal from service for the two cases but the penalty was lowered to six months suspension after he appealed his case.

    Santiago had previously accused former Zambales governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. of allegedly ordering him through a subordinate to steal original election returns stored at the Batasan Pambansa complex and switch them for fake ones to ensure the victory of then president Gloria Arroyo should a recount of votes be asked by the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., Arroyo’s closest rival during the 2004 presidential elections.

    Santiago, a classmate of Gamboa in PMA Class of 1986, was also subject of a “white paper” which was recently circulated in Camp Crame that accused Gamboa of playing the “bata-bata” system or favoritism for not including Santiago when he ordered a major revamp last October 20 even if the latter has a pending case.

    Gamboa had denied playing favorites, saying the reshuffle was consulted with other ranking police officials.