THE head of the police intelligence unit of Calbayog City was sacked from his position after requesting a local court for the names of lawyers allegedly providing legal services to members of insurgent groups.
SHOOTOUT. The vehicle used by Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino swerved to the roadside after a reported shootout with policemen in Lonoy village late Monday (March 8, 2021). The mayor, three policemen, and two civilians died. (Contributed photo)
Officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police (PNP) LtGen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar said the actions of Lt. Fernando Calabria Jr. compromised the good relationship between the PNP and the judiciary.
Based on the initial result of the investigation, what Lt. 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, Eleazar said in a statement.
In view of these initial findings and in consultation with our chief PNP Gen. Debold Sinas, I have already directed the relief of Lt. Calabria as the chief of the Intelligence Unit of the Calbayog City Police Station.
In a letter to the Calbayog City clerk of court, dated March 12, 2021, Calabria requested for the names of lawyers representing communist terrorist group (CTG) personalities in court and even provided another sheet of paper, which could be filled up with the names of lawyers and their affiliation.
As soon as we were informed of a letterI immediately ordered a thorough investigation to determine all the circumstances that prompted police Lt. Fernando G. Calabria Jr. to do so, Eleazar also said in the statement.
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, Eleazar added.
He also apologized to the judiciary and legal community for what he described as the reckless behavior of Calabria.
Lawmakers slam red-tagging of lawyers
On Saturday, progressive lawmakers denounced the leadership of the PNP for requiring courts to submit a list of lawyers, who represent alleged members of CTGs.
This is a clear and present danger to the legal profession. This is an apparent hit-list for targeting lawyers being prepared by the PNP down to its lower levels, said Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Kaloi Tabora Zarate.
Calabria has claimed the list was in compliance [with directives] from higher PNP offices.
Are the attacks, then, on other human rights lawyers part of a coordinated campaign? the progressive solon asked.
This should not be investigated only, but should be denounced as well by the entire legal community, as it clearly places the lives of officers of the court in danger, Zarate said.
WITH ARLIE O. CALALO