ORMOC CITY – Police regional director Arnold Rayala Revilla has cleared Ormoc CIDG head and regional deputy Ch. Insp. Bernard Lao and PO2 Jun Oliva, the close-in PNP security personnel of Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez, from allegations that they are protectors of the drug trade in the city that continues unabated up to press time.
The two were implicated recently through a text message and only learned of it when news reports that they were among the 20 men sacked by PNP Chief Nicanor Bartolome for alleged irregularities came out this week. But aside from the news, Lao said he still has to get a copy of the alleged order.
In Revilla’s report to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, he states that Lao and Oliva “have been on the forefront of the anti-illegal drugs campaign in Ormoc City and neighboring municipalities” and in recognition for their efforts, “no less than Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez … donated a P 2.5-million new CIDG field office in Ormoc City”.
Revilla added, “Further validation of source of the information disclosed that same originated from the political rival of the incumbent Congresswoman”.
Also implicated were three other PNP personnel namely: PO1 Alejo Lucero assigned to the regional intelligence division, PO1 Bobot Costelo of Ormoc City Police Station 1 and a PO1 Tata Villamor.
Except for Villamor, the PNP director said, the other PNP personnel have been in the forefront of the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
PO1 Alfredo “Tata” Villamor is from the prominent Villamor clan of Ormoc City and said to have an unsavory record. The last time his name cropped up in the news was during the shooting of Ormoc barangay chairman Andres “Junjun” Tortugo in what is largely viewed as a drug related incident.
In his complaint filed before the prosecutor’s office here against Espinoza, Turtogo said that during the incident, he had a “guest” then in the person of PO2 Alfredo Villamor who did nothing to help him or stop the gunman. Tortugo said the policeman was “a constant visitor in my house”.
Revilla added that he suspects the complaint against Lao and Oliva “might be a demolition job” spearheaded by Espinoza, who “although behind bar (at the Ormoc City Jail) … still manage to transact illegal drug trade while in detention”.
The unrelenting anti-narcotics campaign of the besmirched police officials, he said, “might have earned the ire of the suspect” who retaliated by using his “contact, a known political personality in Ormoc City”.
To recall, Espinoza is the same suspected drug dealer who was busted in Cebu City shortly before the May 2010 elections escorted by “bodyguards of a Leyte politician” (as reported by Cebu newsmen) on board a vehicle owned by Alice Jean Catingub, also an Ormocana. The bodyguards turned out later to be one Cipriano Diano and Ronnie T. Pocson, employed at the City Hall as a “casual plantilla” since incumbent mayor Eric Codilla came into power in 2004 but was “away without leave” at the time of the apprehension.
Sr. Insp. Bernard Lao, in a phone interview, said he was ready to face his superiors anytime. He added that he has yet to receive any order to reassign him, even as his re-assignment and that of the four other Ormoc cops already figured in the news, one of which is posted at the PNP website.
Their alleged re-assignment reportedly stems from PNP Chief Director General’s order to relieve 20 officers and personnel of the CIDG “linked to a series of irregularities and illegal activity”.
Lao said a perusal of his performance as CIDG chief contradicts the allegations. Since he was assigned to the Northern Leyte, Lao said he has led in the arrests of at least 12 drug personalities, a majority coming from Ormoc City. By LMJ