Police OIC cool to lifestyle check

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    POLICE officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday declined to give a straight answer to the call of ACT-CIS partylist Rep. Eric Yap that contenders for the top PNP post undergo a lifestyle check while two other contenders – Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, the deputy chief PNP for operations, and Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the chief of directorial staff – readily agreed to it.

    Gamboa merely said he leaves it to President Duterte to decide on whether candidates for PNP chief will need to subject themselves to a lifestyle check.

    He also said he does not want any answer to the challenge to be misinterpreted, considering he is the OIC and a contender to the top PNP post.

    “Now, remember, there is a vetting process which is being undertaken by the Office of the President. So whatever the suggestions of the public on how the President should choose the next chief PNP, I suggest we respect the President should he include lifestyle or any other kind of vetting,” Gamboa said.

    “I suggest, and I fully recommend, that we leave it up to the Office of the President who is actually mandated by law to choose the next chief PNP,” he added.

    A police official has said the lifestyle check is part of the vetting process.

    Meanwhile, Gamboa said he was set to meet with the head of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS), Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo, over the penalty meted on one of seven Antipolo cops involved in a “ninja-type” operation last May.

    Gamboa said he has invited Triambulo to a lunch meeting yesterday to discuss their differing opinions on what sanction should be imposed on Lt. Joven de Guzman.
    The meeting did not push through.

    De Guzman was the team leader of the seven-man group that allegedly chased an Antipolo resident from a police check-point up to his house and supposedly carted away gadgets worth P30,000. He was one of the four “ninja cops” who were part of the Antipolo operation.

    “Yes, we will resolve everything… I-resolve muna namin internally (We will have to resolve it internally),” Gamboa said when asked to comment Triambulo’s Tuesday statement that it was actually the acting PNP chief who downgraded De Guzman’s penalty from dismissal to a mere 59-day suspension.

    Triambulo, when asked for an update on the luncheon meeting, said it did not push through and was instead scheduled for a later time also yesterday, Wednesday.

    Triambulo, in a text message to Malaya on the evening of Wednesday, said even the dinner meeting was cancelled. No reason was given for the cancellation.

    Gamboa and Triambulo have expressed different opinions regarding the case of De Guzman and the other 16 Antipolo cops.

    In the IAS recommendation, Triambulo said all seven cops, including the four Pampanga ninja cops De Guzman, M/Sgt.Donald Roque, M/Sgt. Rommel Vital, and Cpl. Romeo Encarnacion Guerrero Jr., were meted the penalty of dismissal from service for 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 separately charged with less grave neglect of duty but meted the same penalty of dismissal from service.

    Last Monday, Gamboa said he affirmed the IAS recommendation of dismissal from service against the six other cops, but said he “gave the appropriate penalty” of 59-day suspension to De Guzman since the latter was charged with a less grave offense.

    Triambulo clarified that De Guzman was equally liable for all the charges, thus he was recommended for dismissal.

    Meanwhile, the IAS said there were 487 prisoners who died while detained in the different police detention cells nationwide from July 2016 to September 2019. Of the number, eight died due to different illness, four for gunshot wounds, two were mauled by their co-detainees, 343 due to problems in congestion of cells, 15 due to shortness of breath, while the rest died of other causes.

    PNP spokesman Bernard Banac said the police leadership will conduct an investigation as to why the detainees died.