Senior Supt. Danny Bautista, city police director, said he ordered the relief of Station 1 head Chief Inspector Rico Cayabyab and his men SPO1 Ronald Santos, PO2 Cyrus Lising, and PO2 Michael Villareal pending investigation on allegations they received P400,000 cash from Lazatin’s nephew whom the congressman asked to be identified only as Joey.
Bautista was provided a tape from the CCTV camera from the Fort Stotsenberg Hotel at Clark Freeport here, purportedly showing Lising and Villareal accompanying Joey and Lazatin’s son nicknamed Pogi in encashing a P400,000 check that was later turned over to the cops.
Lazatin said his nephew and a friend were driving on their way home to Angeles at about 1 a.m. last Jan. 19 when they were flagged down by policemen who accused them of using marijuana after claiming a strong smell of the substance in their car.
“They were brought to Station 1 where they were later told that shabu was found in their car. My nephew said they were threatened and harassed until the cops finally told them that no charges would be filed against them if they could produce P400,000,” Lazatin said.
Lazatin, who had been a three-term mayor of Angeles, stressed that he has never tolerated drug users even if they are relatives, but noted that he would not allow planting of evidence and extortion.
He said that with cops as escorts, Joey went to the house of a friend, son of prominent hotel owner Rey Pineda, to ask whether the latter could lend him P400,000 which the friend did not have.
Lazatin said that back at Station 1, Joey contacted his son Pogi who asked Joey to write a check for P400,000 which could be encashed at the casino of Fort Stotsenberg. Lazatin is part owner of the hotel.
With policemen Lising and Villareal in tow, both Joey and Pogi went to the casino where they were able to cash the check. “What I know is that Pogi later turned over the cash to the station commander himself back at the station where Joey and his friend were allowed to leave without charges, ” Lazatin said.
The CCTV tape allegedly captured the incident in the hotel casino, with the two cops wearing civilian clothes.
“I don’t want them merely relieved. I want them dismissed,” Lazatin said. He also reported the case to Central Luzon police director Chief Supt. Allan Purisima who assured him that the cops could readily be dismissed based merely on “sufficient evidence”.
Lazatin said he would want the P400,000 returned but would suggest that it be donated by Joey to the poor.