GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 January) – A rookie policeman assigned in Tantangan town in South Cotabato province is facing administrative and criminal charges for allegedly duping a local burger stand in nearby Koronadal City over the weekend using counterfeit money.
Senior Insp. Joan Maganto, Tantangan municipal police station chief, said Monday he relieved the station’s assistant investigator Police Officer 1 (PO1) Lito Muyco after he was positively identified by two employees of Anbee Burger House in Koronadal City as the same person who reportedly paid them with a fake P1,000 bill for three hamburgers worth P78 on Saturday afternoon.
“He’s been reassigned to the provincial headquarters to undergo proper investigation,” the police official said in a radio interview.
A female employee of the burger station, whose identity has been withheld for security reasons, said a male customer came to their outlet in front of the South Cotabato provincial capitol in Koronadal City at around 2:30 pm Saturday and ordered three hamburgers.
She said the customer reportedly paid them with a P1,000 bill, which turned out to be fake.
Unaware at first that the money was fake, she prepared a P500 bill and five P100 bills as change, which the man supposedly grabbed from her hand while saying that he was rushing for another transaction that time.
The customer then gave her a P100 bill as payment for the three hamburgers before hastily leaving the scene aboard a black motorcycle with no license plate, she said.
But as the man was leaving, she tried to run after him after noticing that the money he earlier gave them appeared to be fake.
“But he did not even look back. He walked straight to his motorcycle and sped away,” she said in the vernacular.
The employee said she noticed upon returning to the burger station that the customer had left his mobile phone.
She said they immediately checked its phone book and noticed that it contained contact numbers of several policemen.
They later found out that it was owned by PO1 Muyco, whom they immediately tried to contact through his father’s number, she said.
She said PO1 Muyco’s father supposedly told them that the former lost his cellphone that morning and it was even placed on the blotter of the Tantangan police station.
“PO1 Muyco later called us claiming that he lost the cellphone earlier in the day and he’s going to get it from us the next day,” she said.
At around 4:00 pm Sunday, the employee said the policeman came to their store in full police uniform and insisted to get the cellphone back.
She said they immediately confronted the policeman for paying them a fake P1,000 bill but the latter reportedly insisted that they might have mistaken him for another person.
“There were two of us who recognized him positively. The only difference was that he was now driving a different motorcycle and he is already clean shaven,” she said.
The burger station’s employees then called up the Koronadal City, who brought them and the policeman to the city police station.
At the police station, the employee said PO1 Muyco still refused to acknowledged that he paid them with fake money but later agreed to pay them back P1,000 to settle the matter.
Despite the settlement, the burger station’s owner Elizabeth Solivio elevated the matter to the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office and vowed to file appropriate charges against PO1 Muyco.
“This is the fifth incident that happened to our burger station and the modus appeared the same,” she said.
Maganto said that before he issued the relief order on PO1 Muyco, the latter admitted that he “accidentally” paid the burger station the fake P1,000 bill that they earlier intercepted from a passenger van in the area.
Being one of their investigators, the police official said he had instructed PO1 Muyco to take the fake money for safekeeping.
“He reasoned out that there was some mix-up with the money in his wallet and then he picked up and paid the wrong bill. He was reportedly rattled that time so he hastily left the scene,” Maganto said.
The police official assured that they will dig deeper into the matter and file the necessary charges against the policeman should he be found guilty of the accusations. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)