7 summoned for criticizing police on Facebook

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05:41 PM November 10th, 2012

By: Jani Arnaiz, November 10th, 2012 05:41 PM

MAASIN CITY, Philippines—The police here apparently don’t take kindly to criticism, especially when it is posted on social networking sites.

The Maasin police chief “invited” seven Maasinhons to appear at the city police station on November 7 after they posted harsh comments on a Facebook page, criticizing the police for failing to stop four robberies that occurred in a span of 24 hours.

Superintendent Rico Tome said the invitation was not meant to scare anyone.

“We would just like to remind them that what they did was not right. We will just give them a warning,” he said. “It’s true that we have freedom of expression. Now that there’s Facebook—unlike before when it was only radio and newspapers—they could just say defamatory remarks against us. You know the law could run after them,” he said.

But not one of those “invited” showed up at the Maasin City police station on November 7, said Police Officer 3 Danny Araba.

Despite the apparent snub, he added, the police would not send another invitation.

Asked who the seven were, Araba said he could not remember the names.

P02 Darwin Orit, who delivered the invitations, said he could not remember the names either.

The invitation stemmed from comments posted on a Facebook page called “You are from Southern Leyte if…”  about the four break-ins on November 2 and 3.

The break-ins at Avon Cosmetics, Golden Financial and Visayas Armando Corp., which are located near each other in Barangay (village) Abgao, occurred early  Nov. 2.

About P300,000 in cash and checks were taken from Avon Cosmetics and P47,000 from Visayas Armando Corp. Nothing was taken from Golden Financial.

At least P3,000 was stolen in another break-in at Asian Pension Loan, which is next to the house of Maasin Mayor Malone Samaco, early in the morning of Nov. 3.

Adelle Ijao Geraldo made a post in the Facebook page “You are from Southern Leyte if…”  about the four robberies and asked the police, members of neighborhood watches called “tanods” and residents to be vigilant.

Her post generated 447 comments as of Nov. 8.

One comment by Michelle May Jechellehanmico read in Bisaya: “The police records will be filled with unsolved theft cases in our city. I am also a victim of theft but the police concluded that it was an inside job. I am not only the victim but also the suspect. The police did not investigate. DO YOUR WORK POLICEMEN!!!”

Red Guide also made a comment in Bisaya: “Policemen! You should do your work. You should not embarrass yourselves!!!”

Ganda Padilla-Ismael also commented that thieves also broke into her store but “those who were supposed to help were not able to help.”

The page, which has 10,732 members, is open to those who are connected to Southern Leyte either “by blood, by birth, with ancestral roots, business, work related, and willing to post responsibly.”

Tome admitted that he didn’t read the Facebook thread but his policemen said they were libelous.

“My men were even contemplating filing a case but I told them not to push through with it yet,” he said.

Tome said the 50 Maasin policemen could not be expected to be present every time a crime was committed.

He assured the public that the policemen were working hard to solve the break-ins, noting that break-ins have long been a problem in Maasin City. The police have leads on burglaries, Tome added.

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