By Aaron Recuenco
Two top officials of the Rizal Provincial Police, along with at least 14 other policemen, were sacked from their posts in connection with an operation that led to the death of the security aide of election lawyer and senatorial candidate Glenn Chong.
Chief Supt. Edward Carranza, director of the CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) regional police, said his order was an administrative relief pending the investigation on the death of Richard Santillan in Cainta on Monday.
Santillan died after he allegedly traded shots with policemen when he reportedly ignored a checkpoint.
Police said Santillan sped off the sports utility vehicle he was driving when lawmen tried to stop the vehicle to check on the registration of his car. The registration sticker of the vehicle was 2015.
“I have issued the relief of the provincial director of Rizal. I have ordered the relief of the chief of police of Cainta. I also talked with the Highway Patrol Group for the relief of the Highway Patrol Unit team of Rizal,” said Caranza.
“All other policemen involved in the operation were also ordered relieved,” he added.
Sacked were Senior Supt. Lou Evangelista as provincial director of Rizal and Supt. Pablito Naganag, as chief of police of Cainta. Also sacked were 10 members of the CALABARZON Regional Intelligence Group and four cops from the Cainta Police.
Named as Evangelista’s replacement was Supt. Dionisio Bartolome while Supt. Gauvin Unos was named as Naganag’s replacement.
While he ordered the relief of the policemen, Caranza stood by his men’s report that it was a legitimate operation. Based on the police report, Santillan was involved in carnapping activities and in selling illegal drugs. Some 60 grams of shabu were also reportedly seized from him.
He is reportedly a member of the “highway boys’ crime group which was tagged in gun-for-hire, carnapping and selling of illegal drugs activities in Cainta and nearby areas.
“We are not saying that our police was wrong. What we are saying is that there may be an excessive force,” said Caranza. “We call it administrative relieve so as not to influence the investigation,” he added.
Chong, a former representative of Biliran, confirmed that Santillan was his aide but denied that the latter was involved in illegal activities. He also accused the PNP of hiding the police report as he demanded justice for the death of Santillan.
Some of the critics of the political opposition have been insinuating that Santillan’s death has something to do with the alleged election cheating during the 2016 vice presidential race.
But Caranza said that they have no knowledge about any claims of Chong that links Santillan’s death to politics. “We do not know Atty. Chong. His name only cropped up on a post on Facebook. I do not know anything about the Smartmatic that he was talking about,” said Caranza.
Caranza said Chong talked to him on Wednesday and requested to secure the personal belongings of Santillan. “He talked to me asking to secure all belongings of Santillan,” said Caranza.
“I told him we have procedures in the Philippine National Police. I told him di kami puwede boka boka we have procedures,” he stressed.