Town police chief in South Cotabato sacked

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 November) — The South Cotabato Provincial Police Office has relieved the chief of police of Sto. Nino town over accusations that he mistreated a minor during an earlier enforcement of the area’s curfew regulation.

Senior Supt. Jose Briones, South Cotabato police director, said Monday he found “probable cause” to relieve Sr. Insp. Virlen Pampolina of his duties based on the results of their investigation into the incident.

He said Pampolina, who allegedly roughed up a minor inside an internet café in the area last Nov. 15, committed various operational lapses and other related violations while supposedly conducting operations in connection with the town’s curfew ordinance for minors.

“There was cause to relieve him due to the fact that he was not in uniform and not even carrying a copy of the ordinance during the operation,” he said.

Aside from these, Briones said Pampolina should have involved personnel from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office or any representative from the local government in their operation.

He said it is standing operating procedure or SOP for police personnel to ensure the presence of representatives from the lead implementing agency, in this case the municipal government, in enforcing local regulations or policies.

Briones was ordered last week by Chief Supt. Lester Camba, Region 12 police director, to investigate Pampolina over the incident.

Pampolina allegedly manhandled a minor, who was working as a cashier in an internet café at the town proper of Sto. Nino, at past 12 midnight last Nov. 15.

The police officials actions were captured by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at the establishment.

The CCTV footage showed Pampolina, who was wearing civilian clothes and with a handgun tucked on his waist, twisting the boy’s arms to his back and dragged him outside the establishment.

A witness said the police official appeared drunk and smelled of liquor during the incident.

Pampolina earlier played down the incident saying he just enforced the town’s ordinance that barred minors from such establishments and other public areas after 9 p.m.

He denied reports that he was drunk during the incident and insisted that he did not hurt the boy in any way.

Camba, who personally viewed and assessed the CCTV footage, said he initially found some lapses committed by Pampolina.

He said the police official was not wearing his proper uniform and should have tapped his subordinates for the operation.

Briones said he already submitted the results of their investigation to the Police Regional Office 12 for proper decision and handling.

“I have set my initial findings so it’s up to the regional office to determine and decide on the proper actions (on Pampolina),” he said.

As of Monday, he said Pampolina is temporarily reporting for duty at the provincial headquarters in Koronadal City.

He was replaced as chief of police of Sto.Nino town by Sr. Insp. Joel Fuerte, who assumed the post concurrent with his current designation as head of a task group under the provincial police’s operations unit. (MindaNews)