By AARON RECUENCO
The head of the police intelligence unit of the Calbayog City police was sacked from his post over a viral letter which requested a local court to provide the names of lawyers who are providing legal assistance to the communist rebels and their alleged supporters.
Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said what Police Lt. Fenando Calabria Jr. did was a blunder that compromised the good relationship between the police and the Judiciary.
Calabria was the signatory of the letter which went viral in social media since Friday. In the letter dated March 12 and addressed to the Clerk of Court of the Calbayog City Hall of Justice, Calabria asked for the names of the lawyers who represent those whom he described as Communist Terrorist Group (CTGs) and even provided another sheet of paper which could be filled up with the name of the lawyers and their affiliation. The letter stated that the it is in compliance with the order from “higher PNP offices.”
But Eleazar denied that the existence of any order. “As soon as we were informed of a letter… I immediately ordered a thorough investigation to determine all the circumstances that prompted Police Lieutenant Fernando G. Calabria Jr. to do so. And based on the initial result of the investigation, what Police Lieutenant Calabria did was part of his effort to come up with a comprehensive report on the communist insurgency situation in his area of responsibility, which is Calbayog City. The pressure of crafting a detailed report apparently took a toll on him and eventually prompted him to commit a serious breach of policy,” said Eleazar in a statement.
And based on the result of the findings, Eleazar said he immediately relieved Calabria from his post. “We are currently checking if there were similar actions in other areas. At the same time, we are investigating to determine up to what level of police hierarchy is involved in this incident. What is certain at this point is that the PNP top brass did not issue any order pertaining to that, and will never tolerate such unprofessional method of information-gathering,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar apologized to the Judiciary and legal community for what he described as a reckless behavior of Calabria.
“Our apology comes with an assurance to the Judiciary and the members of the legal community that it is not and will never be the policy of the Philippine National Police to run after or even inflict harm on lawyers and members of the judiciary while performing their sworn duty,” said Eleazar.
“As both pillars of the Philippine justice system, the PNP and the Judiciary have been in good working relationship to defend democracy and maintain peace and order in the country. We intend to keep it that way,” he added.