MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde sacked Caloocan City police chief Chito Bersaluna as authorities investigate the killing of 17-year-old student Kian Loyd delos Santos in an anti-drug operation.
In a phone interview with Rappler on Saturday, August 19, Albayalde said it was a preventive suspension pending a probe into the death of Delos Santos. (READ: Kalookan bishop slams killing of 17-year-old boy in drug war)
Albayalde added it was not a form of punishment, and Bersaluna could still return to his prior place in the police force depending on the investigation.
The following police officers have also been named suspects in Delos Santos' death: PCI Amor Cerilo, PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremiah Pereda, and PO1 Jerwin Cruz.
Delos Santos, a grade 11 student, was killed by the police in an alleged frame-up during anti-drug operations in Caloocan City. (READ: Our son, Kian: A good, sweet boy)
In a separate phone interview with Rappler before 8 pm on Saturday, Bersaluna said he has yet to formally receive an order from Albayalde.
Bersaluna however said, "Normal naman po sa PNP na may ganyan – nare-relieve, nata-transfer, nasu-suspend." (It's normal in the PNP to have this – to have people relieved, or transferred, or suspended.)
He also said the suspension might not be all bad, as it gives him time to rest and be with his family.
Bersaluna's preventive suspension comes a few days after the Caloocan Police was awarded Best Police Station for 2016 in NCR.
His station was also awarded for the Unit with the highest number of recovered firearms, Best in Double Barrel and Double Barrel Alpha, and Unit with Highest Number of Arrested/Neutralized Top Ten Most Wanted Persons (TMWP) and High Value Targets (HVT). – with reports from Rambo Talabong and Eloisa Lopez/Rappler.com