Bato mayor installs new town police chief; says ex-police chief a ‘danger’ to constituents

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 22 2020 08:37 PM

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MANILA — The mayor of Bato town in Catanduanes on Tuesday installed a new local police chief after its predecessor got sacked over his comments on the twin slay in Tarlac by a cop. 

Mayor Juan Rodulfo said in an interview on ABS-CBN TeleRadyo that PLt. Fidel Romero Jr. is the municipality’s new chief of police as of Tuesday afternoon.

The PNP Region 5 and an officer at the Bato Municipal Police Station said Romero is officer-in-charge (OIC) for the time being.

Rodulfo said he did not like the reaction of the town’s previous police chief — Police Capt. Ariel Buraga — on the murder of Sonia Gregorio and her son Frank Anthony in Paniqui last Sunday after getting into a heated debate with their neighbor, Police Staff Sgt. Jonel Nuezca.

Buraga drew flak after saying in a now deleted Facebook post that people should learn how to respect cops. 

“Sa post niya… parang dinedepensa pa niya dahil sa walang respeto kaya puwedeng gawin yun…. Dahil grabe, brutal po ‘yong pagpatay sa mag-ina, diretso na po ako, pumasok po sa isip ko na itong tao na ito (Buraga) ay mapanganib po para sa aming mga mamamayan sa aming bayan,” Rodulfo explained why he moved to ask for Buraga's relief as the town's police chief. 

(His post seemed to defend the policeman, that just because he was disrespected, he could already kill. The killings of the mother and her son were brutal, so, I immediately realized that Buraga is dangerous to our residents.)

He said he confronted Buraga early Tuesday, and the latter continued to defend his post. 

“Pinaliwanag niya po na yung kanyang post na yun, ano lang po yun, dahil sa hindi pagrespeto ng mag-ina na yun sa pulis, kaya nagawa yung krimen. 'Yun po yung paulit-ulit niya sinabi, na hindi niya ginusto na pumatay yung ano, pero yong respeto, 'yun daw yung dapat,” the mayor said.

(He explained his post. He said the two were killed because they disrespected the policeman. That was what he repeatedly said -- that respect should have been given to the policeman.) 

“Sabi ko nga sa kanya, may kasalanan o walang kasalanan, hindi mo puwedeng patayin, sa ganyang sitwasyon, ilagay mo sa kamay ‘yong batas. Yan po yung sinabi ko sa kanya,” he added.

(I told him that whether the mother and son erred, one should not kill right away. You cannot take the law into your own hands.)

Rodulfo noted that the former town police chief was active on social media, and usually engages with people online on different issues. 

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A viral video that took the Philippines by firestorm on Monday captured the brutal deaths of the Gregorios after an altercation with Nuezca over the use of “Boga” or bamboo cannon, days before Christmas. 

The hashtags #StopTheKillingsPH, #EndPoliceBrutality and #OUSTDUTERTENOW trended on Twitter over the incident on Monday morning.

The Philippine National Police earlier in the day said it was reviewing the dismissal of previous cases against Nuezca. 

In 2019, 2 cases of grave misconduct for homicide were filed against Nuezca, and were dismissed "for lack of substantial evidence."

He was charged with two counts of murder over the deaths of the Gregorios, and had reportedly expressed remorse.