3 cops bamboozle chief over arbitrary re-assignment

Small cops win over big

FIRST-OF-A-KIND CASE: 

3 cops bamboozle chief over 
arbitrary re-assignment

With my father Remo and mother Marianita at our house in Koronadal

 This case may be the first of a kind for many lowly-ranked policemen fighting off transfer ordered by their city director.

The Koronadal RTC, Branch 24, granted the application for preliminary injunction against General Santos City Director Senior Superintendent Froilan F. Quidilla to restore his three men--Police Inspector Rafael B. Banggay, PO2 Jeorge B. Jabat and PO1 Alberto O. Alberto--to their original posts at Police Community Precinct 3, Lagao district.

As the lawyer of the three, Atty. Beteni Cataluna Causing argued before Judge Tampac that it was illegal for Quidilla to transfer his men to the "freezer" assignment called Police Holding and Accounting Unit (PHAU) because there was no legal justification and it was arbitrary, so that the re-assignment be provisionally enjoined.

Atty. Causing also argued that the transfer order was done in bad faith because it occurred right after they busted three drug sellers in the City.

Atty. Causing pointed out there is no law or rule or policy in any statute or memorandum circulars of the Napolcom or the Philippine National Police authorizing a city chief of police to transfer his men from one post to another as a punishment or as one based on whims or caprice.

Atty. Causing also argued it was an election offense to order the transfer without prior written consent of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Atty. Falgui, the lawyer of Quidilla, argued before Judge Tampac that the transfer was justified by the fact that there was a complainant named Mercy Diola who filed a complaint that the three cops asked for P100,000 from her in exchange for the release from detention of her son Jim Russel Diola, who claimed he was arrested for possession of "shabu", technically called "methamphetamine hydrochloride."

Atty. Causing countered that there is no law or rule or policy that authorizes a City Director to transfer his men just because one popped out to complain against concerned subordinate police officers.  He added that on record Jim Russel was never arrested.

In addition, Atty. Causing pointed out that if indeed there is a complaint against a cop, Napolcom Memorandum Circular 2007-001 requires: (1) that a case be filed first before a disciplining authority and a City Director is not vested by law as a disciplining authority; (2) then a preliminary investigation be done first to determine if the allegations in the complaint have prima facie evidence and only when there is a prima facie evidence that a preventive suspension may be determined if necessary but not transfer; (3) then a formal charge will be filed and the concerned policeman is required to file answer and to express whether he elects to have a formal hearing (trial type) or mere submission of position papers; and (4) a decision is issued acquitting or convicting the cop. 

IN THE CASE OF THE THREE COPS, NO ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGE WAS FILED YET THEY WERE ORDERED TRANSFERRED TO AN ASSIGNMENT WHERE THEY DID NOTHING EXCEPT FOR REPORTING FOR ATTENDANCE.

In addition, Atty. Causing pointed out that no one was caught in the entrapment operation at the PCP No. 3 that Quidilla claimed they set up to catch PO2 Jabat receiving P50,000.

Atty. Causing also informed the court during that oral argument that while they claimed having conducted entrapment of PO2 Jabat, how could it be believed in to be true when the men of Quidilla numbering more than 20 cops from the City Headquarters did not even find the shadow of PO2 Jabat at the PCP No. 3?

Atty. Causing added that when it was impossible for Jabat to have escaped if he were there because the police raiders swooped down and scoured every room of the police sub-station and the perimeter guards were so tight, and if there was any conclusion from these circumstances, the alleged P50,000 entrapment was a mere script in a movie and PO2 Jabat was not there at the sub-station.

Backtracking, Atty. Falgui then argued that the transfer of the three cops was actually meant to prevent them from harassing or threatening the complainant and her witnesses.  To this, Atty. Causing countered that this is ridiculous because after their duty at the freezer assignment, the three policemen can still go to the complainant's house and harass her if indeed they were guilty and were so minded to do so. In other words, the fact that it is not a cure to the pretended "fear" makes it unacceptable to justify the transfer.  Besides, Atty. Causing argued, there is no law or rule or policy that authorizes the city director to transfer his subordinates in order to protect the complainants and witnesses from harassment, threats and violence.

Backtracking again, Atty. Falgui this time argued that the transfer of the three cops was actually meant to show to the complainant and the public that the city director was fair and impartial to the complainants that he even transferred their assignment.  To this, Atty. Causing countered that there is no law, rule or policy that authorizes the city director to transfer any of his men just to make a show of fairness whenever there is a complaint against any of his policemen and besides there is no logic that can support a proposition that transferring one's men will make the chief look fair. Atty. Causing recalled that fairness is assured when the dispenser of justice, the lady justice, is blind.

Then Atty. Falgui argued that contrary to the insistence that there was no prior written consent from the Comelec the city director actually wrote on October 2, 2013 a letter to Comelec Region 12 Director asking for permission to transfer the three clients, then the Comelec official wrote back on October 3, 2013 authorizing the city director to do the transfer, and then the alleged investigation ordered by Quidilla was completed on October 7, 2013.  It was on October 8, 2013 that the transfer order was issued by Quidilla.

To this, Atty. Causing pounced on that the Comelec Regional Director has no authority to give written consent because power cannot be presumed and there is no En Banc resolution delegating such power to the regional directors. 

Further, Atty. Causing argued it was noticeable that the letter to the Comelec regional director asking for prior consent to the transfer was filed when there was no investigation yet.  To this, Atty. Falgui lost for words.

After the oral argument, Atty. Causing sought from the presiding judge a permission to file their position paper for the application for preliminary injunction and it was granted while defendant Quidilla was also given an opportunity to submit his position paper in the same number of days.  Atty. Causing filed their position paper while Atty. Falgui did not do so.

On 19 December 2013, the judge returned a judgment on the application that Banggay and company received, granting the application for preliminary injunction.

This shows that if only small cops will go to court over any arbitrary act of their superior, they can win and must do so in order to put a stop to the high-handed arrogant practices of their commanders.

Even a PO1 deserves the highest respect from the Chief of the PNP.
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