Police Officer 2 Felix Remerata has been restricted from his duty and was placed under the protective custody of his direct superior, Senior Insp. Gilbert Tuzon of the 1201st Police Mobile Group based in Pikit town.
Remerata, a member of the Cotabato Rapid Response Group, an elite anti-terror unit created by the provincial government early this year, was also being investigated for the loss of a 9mm pistol issued to him. He claimed the firearm was stolen by the still unidentified soldier.
In his statement to city police director Leo Ajero, Remerata said that the suspect took his firearm at the height of their heated altercation inside the pub house.
“I was looking for my lost wallet when I encountered those soldiers,” he told the investigators.
But a waiter at Eat Me who requested anonymity said that Remerata was heavily drunk when he tried to confront one of their guest relations officers (GROs).
The police reportedly became ‘mad as hell’ when the GRO refused to join him outside.
“Nagsimula silang magtalo nang pagsabihan ng mga sundalo si Remerata na magdahan-dahan. Pero ayaw makinig ng pulis, kaya kinuha ng isa sa mga sundalo ang baril ni Remerata para di makapagpaputok,” (It all started when soldiers told Remerata to go slow, but the policeman wouldn’t listen. One of the soldiers grabbed Remerata’s firearm tucked in his waist so he can’t fire it) said the waiter)
The waiter said he was sure it was an Army soldier that took Remerata’s firearm. He said the soldier and his companions were regular costumers.
The suspect and his friends fled after a few minutes, taking with them Remerata’s gun.
Ajero, in a radio interview, said he has yet to find out to what unit the Army man belongs.
There are two Army units operating in North Cotabato – the 38th Infantry Battalion assigned in Magpet town and the 39th IB in nearby Makilala town.
“We decided not to disclose the unit of the Army unless we’re very sure of it,” said Ajero. He said it is possible that the suspect is not actually a member of the Army.
Remerata might also face administrative charges for conduct unbecoming. He was not supposed to enter a night club of ill-repute, according to a top official of the CRRG.
The policeman and four other persons, one of them a rich businessman with dual citizenship, had entered the pub house, on July 18, around 9 p.m. They left around 11:30 p.m.
A few minutes later, Remerata went back and stayed there until 2:30 a.m., the next day. This time, he was heavily drunk, said the waiters.
“Nagwawala na siya sa loob. Di na siya mapigil kaya’t kinumpronta na siya ng mga lalaki,” (He was getting wild inside. We couldn’t control him anymore, this was why the other male customers confronted him) they said.
Romulo Sillona, owner of Eat Me, is bent on filing charges against Remerata.
“This is one of the many problems I encountered with many of our customers who are cops. They would get wild, harm other customers, fire their guns, and harass our workers. I want a stop to all these things,” said Sillona in a radio interview.
Insp. Benjamin Mauricio, chief of the intelligence division of the Kidapawan City PNP, said that as police officers, they are not allowed to enter night clubs of ill-repute.
“Besides, doing surveillance is not part of the CRRG’s job,” said the investigator.
“They are not members of the intelligence community so why do a surveillance job?” he added.
North Cotabato Vice Governor Manny Piñol, one of the proponents of the CRRG, said the primary duty of the unit is to man the highway, arrest suspected car thieves and other lawless groups, and not to pose as close-in security of the VIPs or do surveillance job.
Piñol has ordered a thorough investigation of Remerata’s case. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)