In a 13-page order signed by Napolcom chairman and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on Oct. 21, 2020, the Napolcom found Police Capt. Allan Reloj, town police chief at that time, Police Master Sgt. Ricardo Dingcong Jr., Police Corporal Nobel Perante, Police Corporal Felix Pesales Jr., and Police Patrolmen Michael Mondido and Darryl Dormido “culpable for grave misconduct and grave irregularities in the performance of duty.” The case stemmed from the checkpoint conducted by the police on Dec. 19, 2017 in Barangay Crossing Magallon, Moises Padilla where the Yulo couple on board a pickup truck was flagged down.
In August 2018, La Carlota City Regional Trial Court Branch 63 Judge Cyclamen Jison-Fernandez issued arrest warrants against the Yulo couple after they were charged with illegal possession of explosives and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
A month later, the couple surrendered to the top cop of Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 at that time and was jailed for seven months.
The Moises Padilla vice mayor insisted that the recovered two hand grenades, two .45 caliber pistols and ammunition, and two plastic sachets containing suspected shabu were planted, and that they were harassed and manhandled by the police at the checkpoint.
In defense, the town policemen led by Reloj at that time said that they flagged down the couple’s vehicle during the checkpoint operation due to “suspicious actuation.” The Napolcom, however, stressed in the ruling that the prosecution was able to establish that the area where the checkpoint was set up was not well-lighted which is a violation of the 2013 Philippine National Police Operational Procedure. Also, the checkpoint was manned by respondents, some of whom in civilian clothes, members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team, and unidentified armed men, the Napolcom said.
“It is worthy to note that there were marked inconsistencies given by respondents” in their joint affidavit and other documentary evidence they presented.” It also stressed that the “testimonies of complainants and their witnesses were clear and straightforward, narrating in detail the act done by respondents, thus accorded greater weight as opposed to the defense of alibi and denial of respondents.” “Respondents’ acts are clear exhibition of transgression of some established and definite rule of action which involves a willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules and were highly improper, therefore, construed as grave misconduct and grave irregularities in the performance of duty,” the Napolcom said.
The Napolcom ruling stated that these policemen were meted with the maximum penalty of dismissal from service in view of the presence of the aggravating circumstance of being found guilty of two or more charges or counts.
“Accordingly, the accessory penalties of cancellation of their police eligibilities, forfeiture of retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification from holding public office are likewise imposed,” Napolcom added.
Mrs. Yulo filed her Certificate of Candidacy for mayor in October 2018 while she was detained at the Negros Occidental District Jail in Bago City.
She was released in April 2019 due to insufficient evidence. Mrs. Yulo survived an ambush on her campaign convoy, but her brother and nephew were killed in the attack that, she believed, targeted her.
With the Napolcom ruling, Mrs. Yulo, who is now the town mayor, said she is grateful that they finally attained justice after so many years.
Meanwhile, Police Lt. Abegael Donasco, Negros Occidental police information officer, said that Reloj already retired from the police service, while the five other cops are still rendering their duties at their respective police stations.
Donasco said they will have to wait for the official written order from the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters for the implementation of the dismissal order.
She also said that the moment these five policemen receive the copies of the order, they will be given 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration.