The local police chief invited seven city netizens to appear at the police station on Nov. 7 for posting comments on Facebook critical of the police for failing to stop four robberies that occurred in a span of 24 hours.
Supt. Rico Tome stressed the invitation was not meant to intimidate 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 there were only radio and newspapers, they could just make 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, said PO3 Danny Araba, police investigator.
Despite the apparent snub, he added, they would not send another invite.
Asked to name the seven netizens, Araba said he could not remember their names. P02 Darwin Orit, who delivered the invitations, could not also remember their names.
The invitation stemmed from comments posted on a Facebook page called “You are from Southern Leyte if…” about the four break-ins on Nov. 2 and 3.
The robberies at Avon Cosmetics, Golden Financial and Visayas Armando Corp., which are located near each other in Barangay Abgao, occurred in the early morning of Nov. 2.
Around P300,000 in cash and checks was taken from Avon Cosmetics and P47,000 from Visayas Armando Corp. Nothing was taken at Golden Financial.
At least P3,000 was stolen during another break-in at Asian Pension Loan, which is beside the house of Maasin Mayor Malone Samaco, in the early morning of Nov. 3 .
Adelle Idjao Geraldo posted on the Facebook page about the four robberies and asked the police, 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 commented in Bisaya: “Policemen! You should do your work. You should not embarrass yourselves!!!”
Ganda Padilla-Ismael commented that thieves also broke into her store but “those who were supposed to help were not able to help.”
The Facebook page, which has 10,732 members, is open to those who are connected to Southern Leyte either “by blood, by birth, ancestral roots, business, work-related, and willing to post responsibly.”
Tome admitted that he didn’t read the Facebook thread but his subordinates had told him they were libelous.
“My men were even contemplating filing a case (against those who posted the comments) but I told them not to push through with it yet,” he said.