GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Apr) – The Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 has relieved the chief of police of Koronadal City as it launched an investigation into a viral video showing an alleged drinking and gambling session inside the police station.
Col. Joel Limson, South Cotabato police director, relieved Lt. Col. Benjiel Kirby Bajo effective Thursday, April 4, in line with the incident and temporarily transferred him to the provincial office.
Lt. Col. Aldrin Gonzales, PRO-12 public information officer, confirmed on Friday that the R-7 or the Regional Investigation and Detective Management (RIDM) division has already started its investigation into the incident.
He said the RIDM personnel are currently coordinating with the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office on the matter.
“We’re not tolerating this. The Chief PNP (Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde) has a stern order prohibiting all police personnel from drinking liquor in public places, much more inside the police station,” Gonzales said.
The video showed Bajo and several police personnel in uniform and civilian clothes playing cards with bets and drinking liquor inside the Koronadal City police station.
The incident, which reportedly happened sometime last January, was uploaded recently in the social media by radio station Brigada News FM in Koronadal City.
Bajo, in an interview with the same radio station, admitted that they were the ones shown in the video and allowed his subordinates then to have a “happy hour” prior to an operation the next day.
He said they decided to have a gathering as they were unable to hold a Christmas party after one of their colleagues was slain in an operation in early December.
Gonzales said it would be up for Bajo and other involved personnel to justify their actions during the investigation process.
He said the police official’s initial admission through the media will help speed up the resolution of the matter.
As to Bajo’s “alibi,” Gonzales said it would be up to him and others involved to justify their actions before the investigators.
But Gonzales said Albayalde’s orders on such prohibition, which was even reiterated by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in previous statements, was “very specific.”
“How can we have the moral ascendancy to arrest persons who are into illegal gambling and those having drinking sessions in unauthorized public places if those things happen inside our police stations?” he stressed.
He added that the possible sanctions would depend on the results of the investigation but said Albayalde had declared that such offenses are “tantamount to dismissal in service.” (MindaNews)