The six policemen involved in the December 2017 checkpoint in Moises Padilla that resulted in the arrest of then town vice mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo and her husband, Felix Yulo III, for alleged possession of firearms, drugs, and explosives have been dismissed from service by the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM).
The 13-page order, which was signed on Oct. 21, 2020 by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who is also the NAPOLCOM chairman, found Police Capt. Allan Reloj, town police chief at that time, MSgt Ricardo Dingcong Jr., Corporal Nobel Perante, Corporal Felix Pesales Jr., Patrolman Michael Mondido, and Patrolman Darryl Dormido “culpable for grave misconduct and grave irregularities in the performance of duty.”
The policemen were meted the maximum penalty of dismissal from service, in view of the presence of the aggravating circumstance of being found guilty of two or more charges or counts.
“Accordingly, the accessory penalties of cancellation of their police eligibilities, forfeiture of retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification from holding public office are likewise imposed,” the order added.
The case stemmed from the checkpoint set up by the police on Dec. 19, 2017 at Barangay Crossing Magallon, Moises Padilla, where the Yulo couple on board a pickup vehicle were flagged down.
The vice mayor insisted that they were harassed and manhandled by the police at the checkpoint and that the recoveries – the two hand grenades, two .45 caliber pistols and ammunition, and two plastic sachets containing suspected shabu – were planted.
She also said that her bag and camera were taken from her and that they were forcibly removed from the vehicle.
The policemen led by Reloj defended the conduct of the checkpoint, stressing that they flagged down the couple’s vehicle due to “suspicious actuation.”
Reloj said he immediately saw the handgun on the husband’s lap and that the vice mayor screamed and struck him.
He had also issued conflicting statements to the media as to where the grenades were found.
In the NAPOLCOM ruling, it stressed that the prosecution was able to establish that the area where the checkpoint was placed was not well-lighted which violates the 2013 Philippine National Police Operational Procedure and that the checkpoint was manned by respondents, some of whom were in civilian clothes, members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team, and unidentified armed men.
“It is worthy to note that there were marked inconsistencies given by respondents in their joint affidavit and other documentary evidence they presented,” the order said.
It also stressed that the “testimonies of complainants and their witnesses were clear and straightforward, narrating in detail the act done by respondents, thus accorded greater weight as opposed to the defense of alibi and denial of respondents.”
From the evidence presented, NAPOLCOM said it gives more weight to the positive identification of the prosecution’s witnesses claiming that respondents committed the acts imputed against them.
“Respondents’ acts are clear exhibition of transgression of some established and definite rules of action which involves a willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules and were highly improper, therefore, construed as grave misconduct and grave irregularities in the performance of duty,” the ruling stressed.
Yulo, who is now the town mayor, said she is grateful that they finally obtained justice after so many years, “napreso kami tungod sini…at least nakita kag klaro nga iligal ang ila nga gin ubra (we were jailed because of this. At least it is clear that what they did was illegal),” she added.
On August 2018, La Carlota City Regional Trial Court Branch 63 Judge Cyclamen Jison-Fernandez issued warrants for their arrest after the Yulos were charged with illegal possession of explosives, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. They were jailed in September, after the couple surrendered.
The couple spent seven months in jail, leaving their teenage daughter behind.
In October 2018, Yulo, who was detained at the Negros Occidental District Jail in Bago City, filed her Certificate of Candidacy for mayor.
Just weeks after she was released in April 2019, due to insufficient evidence, she survived an ambush on her campaign convoy, but her brother and nephew were killed in the attack that, she believed, targeted her.
Yulo said that the NAPOLCOM ruling was for her brother and nephew, who religiously followed up on her case while she was in prison.*