Dep. Ombudsman for Military & Other Law Enforcement Offices Suspends 5 Cops, 3 Other TF Lawod Operatives

Finding them guilty of simple misconduct in relation to an anti-illegal fishing operation on August 18, 2014, five Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOCPPO) policemen and three other member-operatives of the Negros Occ. Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) Task Force Lawod, were meted a penalty of three months and one day suspension without pay.

Suspended were Police Supt. Gabriel Prietos Gutierrez, SPO1 Alfredo Chavez, PO3 Onald Villa, PO2 Albert Juaneza, PO2 Dennis Capatar, Noel de la Cruz, Neil Francis Gepanago and Welman Mendones.

The administrative case stemmed from the complaints of three officers of a fishing vessel, F/V Aqua King that the TF Lawod operatives have apprehended during an anti-illegal fishing operation in the sea between southern Negros Occ. and Guimaras.

The complainants who filed criminal and administrative complaints, through their legal counsel Arnel Lapore, were F/V Aqua King captain Gerardo Alolod, chief engineer Noel Hilado, and master and Robert Despi, the master fisherman.

Their criminal complaints against the five cops and 3 others, also in relation to their apprehension for allegedly violated the 15 kilometer prohibited fishing area, were earlier dismissed by the Prosecutor’s Office.

The complainants alleged that during their apprehension, the TFL team members forced one Ramonito Villalon to operate their fishing vessel although Villalon is not licensed and therefore not authorized to operate the fishing boat.

The complainants said, Villalon navigated the vessel to Hinigaran, where Villa, Juaneza, de la Cruz, Mendones, Gapango and two others later boarded and made indiscriminate search, the complainants said.

When master fisherman Despi on August 20 returned to the fishing vessel, he discovered that their P50,000 cash for emergency use was missing.

The respondents denied the charges claiming they were simply performing their duties as TF Lawod members.

The Ombudsman’s joint resolution dated April 5, 2017 was signed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Avelino Macamus Jr. and concurred by Acting Director, PIAAPB-B Yvette Marie Evaristo, and recommended for approval by Acting Assistant Ombudsman Dennis, and approved and signed October 9, 2017 by Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices Cyril Ramos.* (Arman P. Toga)