The police chief of the municipality of Balabac is in hot water following the spread on social media of a CCTV footage capturing him and his companions in an altercation with local civilians outside a videoke bar.
Senior Superintendent Gabriel Lopez, Palawan PNP chief, identified the police officer involved as Insp. Michael Erlano. Erlano and his companions were allegedly drunk when the incident happened last May 3 at a videoke bar in Barangay 5, Balabac.
The CCTV footage, shared by netizens on Facebook, showed Erlano and a still unidentified companion berating and beating up civilians later identified to be Bobby Sendaydiego and barangay kagawad Ricardo Buñag.
Lopez said Erlano is under investigation for alleged abusive behavior against Sendaydiego and Buñag and other civilians identified as Ma. Esperanza Sendaydiego, Angel Lladones, and Julios Loresto.
“We will schedule an investigation sa lalong madaling panahon. Magpapa-conduct tayo ng inquiry para makita natin kung sino talaga ‘yong tama,” Lopez told Palawan News.
He said he was able to speak with Erlano after he was alerted by a local resident of the incident. Erlano, according to Lopez, claimed initially that the civilians started the trouble.
“Ang sabi niya (Erlano), pag-uwi nila may naka-kursunada sa kanila. Hindi naman daw nabugbog, nasapak lang naman daw,” Lopez said.
Lopez added however that the video taken from the CCTV of the videoke establishment conflicts with the explanation of Erlano. He said that Erlano will be “heavily accountable” for violating the liquor ban in connection with the upcoming local elections.
“Kung sakaling hindi totoo, may mali pa rin ang police natin kasi uminom siya, eh. Sa totoo ay may nangyari. Talagang uminom, nag-sing-along, tapos nagkaroon ng kaguluhan. May nangyari talaga,” Lopez said.
A netizen who witnessed the incident posted an account in social media stating that the policemen headed by Erlano had arrived late at the bar already drunk and forced themselves inside despite the bar having been closed already for the night. She claimed that the policemen threatened to fire their guns if they were not accommodated.
She also said some of the policemen were rowdy and pulled out their guns while they were dancing. The group also allegedly did not pay their bills when they left the bar.
Lopez said that Erlano had claimed that the bar’s owner voluntarily re-opened the bar for them when they arrived.
“Sabi niya, ‘Sir, hindi naman po kami nagpilit na magpabukas.’ Iyon daw may-ari ang nag-volunteer na nag-sabi na okay pa,” Lopez said.
Buñag, in an interview with Palawan News on Monday, claimed the incident happened after one of the policemen almost hit his nephew with his motorcycle as they were about to leave, leading to a heated argument between his nephew and the policeman.
“Muntik nasagian, nahagip na nga ang damit ng pamangin ko. Sabi ko huwag na sundan kasi PNP ‘yan. So sinundan pa rin. Paglapit niya, hindi pa siya nakakapag-salita, inupak-upakan na ‘yong pamangkin ko. Para hindi sana lumala ang gulo, diplomasya ang ginawa ko. Hinarang-harangan ko siya, ako naman ang binira-birahan ng mga pulis,” Buñag said.