The police chief of Panglao on Thursday explained that the two cops accused of stealing biometric devices together with three men allegedly working for dismissed mayor Leonila Montero from the town’s municipal hall were merely deployed to provide “assistance.”
According to Panglao police chief Sr. Insp. Geronimo Conarco, Montero requested for police assistance in removing the devices and he had clearance from the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO), particularly its director Sr. Supt. Angeles Geñorga, to deploy the two cops.
Conarco also said that the group of five men including the two police officers took the devices only to transfer them to another location inside the municipal hall.
Mayor Pedro Fuertes earlier identified the men who took the devices as Andy Siriban, Alejandro Arbutante and Glenn Cabilan and Panglao Police Station personnel PO3 Aldrin Cuervo and PO2 Gimel Oligario.
Conarco’s claim however was contrary to the allegation made by Fuertes who reported to the Panglao police that three biometric devices were stolen, noting that there were two witnesses who saw the group take the items on Wednesday afternoon.
“Mi-ingon si Nila Montero na ipa-transfer ang biometric. Ang police ga-assist lang aron way gubot ba. Way mi-alsa, mi-guba or hing-tudlo or ni-instruct na tang-tanga na,” said Conarco.
“Mi-refer ko ni PD [Geñorga] ana, ingon siya na ‘ok. I-assist mo lang.’ So may instruction ni PD,” he added.
Conarco noted that he was in Cebu for a seminar during the time of the incident.
He admitted that the Panglao Police Station remained confused on who to officially acknowledge as the town’s chief executive as both Fuertes and Montero maintained their claim on the town’s mayoralty.
He also claimed that the Panglao Police Station continued to carry out its duties with impartiality particularly with regards to Montero and Fuertes’ battle for the town’s top government post.
“Naglibog ko kay duha ang mayor,” said Conarco noting that they would follow orders issued by both Montero and Fuertes if given clearance by the BPPO. “Police visibility lang ang amo na way away sila…Basta amo lang police assistance.”
Montero earlier this year was found guilty of grave misconduct and was meted out with dismissal and perpetual disqualification from holding public office, allowing Fuertes, who was the elected vice mayor, to take over as mayor.
However, Montero last month announced her re-assumption of the mayoralty on basis that the Court of Appeals downgraded the Ombudsman’s findings in her case from grave back to simple misconduct.
Fuertes has since challenged Montero’s return with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) favoring the former.
The DILG, through a memorandum, has called Montero’s return “premature” and declared Fuertes as the town’s lawful mayor.
The Philippine National Police is administered by the National Police Commission and is part of the DILG.
Both Montero and Fuertes have yet to release official statements regarding the recent development in their drawn-out battle for the mayoral post.