Suspended Caloocan police set to return

Rambo Talabong
Suspended Caloocan police set to return
The 1,000-strong Caloocan City police force will be coming from a months-long suspension following a string of controversies

MANILA, Philippines – Cops from Caloocan City will be going back to their home stations this week after a graduation ceremony on Monday, December 4, announced Metro Manila police chief Director Oscar Albayalde on Sunday, December 3.

“Bukas na ang graduation ng Caloocan (Tomorrow is the graduation ceremony of Caloocan police),” Albayalde told Rappler in a text message, referring to the completion of the police’s retraining and reorientation.

In a phone interview, Albayalde said the cops will begin their return after the ceremony, and they hope that their reassignment will be completed by Friday, December 8.

The 1,000-strong Caloocan City police force will be coming from a months-long suspension following a string of controversies that angered Albayalde and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

The cases that drew the most attention were the deaths of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos and 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz at the hands of Caloocan City cops.

Delos Santos was supposedly killed because he fought back in a drug operation. But witness accounts and CCTV footage point to cops going rogue then killing him defenseless.

Arnaiz was killed after he allegedly robbed a taxi then shot it out with cops. An investigation found, however, that he was also killed defenseless. (READ: Kian and Carl: What the deaths of two boys have in common)

Not all

According to Albayalde, not all who went to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City for the retraining are guaranteed to return to the stations they hope to come home to.

“Evaluation will be conducted further. ‘Yung iba may pre-charge dahil sa absent, ‘yung iba, maa-assign sa labas ng Caloocan, ‘yung iba maa-assign sa labas ng NCRPO,” Albayalde told Rappler in a phone interview.

(Evaluation will be conducted further. Some will be charged for absenteeism, others will be assigned outside Caloocan, others will be assigned outside the NCRPO.)

The evaluation, Albayalde said, will be based on the cops’ track records during retraining. An oversight committee will make the recommendations.

“Makakabalik ka lang kung deserve [mo] (You can only return if you deserve to),” Albayalde added.

3-month wait

Albayalde had sent the Caloocan City cops to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa for retraining and reorientation on September 15, around 3 months ago.

They were supposed to have “graduated” by the first week of November.

According to Albayalde, the cops’ relief from their regular duties took longer because of two things: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, and a lack of facilities at Camp Bagong Diwa.

“Sa ASEAN kinailangan pa silang i-deploy for backup…Tapos kinulang ng facilities sa barracks para i-accommodate ang 1,000, kasi ginawang one-time ang pagpapadala,” Albayalde told Rappler.

(They had to be deployed to the ASEAN Summit for backup…Then we did not have enough facilities in the barracks to accommodate 1,000 cops, because they were all sent in one go.)

During the cops’ suspension, the NCR Public Safety Battalion police have been taking their posts.

Criminal case files, including the papers of Delos Santos and Arnaiz, were recently lost in a fire that gutted part of the Caloocan City Police Station. (IN PHOTOS: Inside the Caloocan City Police Station after the fire–

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.