Biron mulls suit vs cops’ ‘slanderous’ claims

Dr. Ferjenel Biron

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

Former Iloilo 4th district congressman Ferjenel Biron is mulling to file suits against two police officers for dragging his name in Ombudsman cases filed against them.

In a statement, Biron said he was surprised when Police Captain Charlie Sustento and Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Pinuela accused him of influencing the cases filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Sustento and Pinuela uttered the claims in a press conference at the Iloilo Police Provincial Office in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo Thursday. The press conference delved into Pinuela’s 6-month suspension for “conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.”

At the end part of the press conference, Sustento spewed invectives at Biron and the Ombudsman for allegedly persecuting them.

Biron said he had no hand in the cases filed against the two officers.

“…I was surprised to find my name being dragged into the cases of Police Captain Charlie Sustento and Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Pinuela as I am in no way involved in the resolution of any of these cases in any shape or form. In fact, if anyone can prove my involvement in the resolution of these cases, I will withdraw myself from public service,” he added.

Biron pointed out that Sustento was previously dismissed for grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a police officer by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017.

“That case was filed by private citizens, whom I have never met. They alleged that they were punched and threatened with firearms,” he said.

Sustento’s case stemmed from a complaint by Richard Samontosa and Janice Braga of Dumangas, Iloilo over an incident on Nov 24, 2014.

Samontosa claimed that he was invited to the Dumangas police station in connection with an alleged motorcycle theft.

Samontosa said he refused until Sustento came over and shouted at him, grabbed his shirt and pulled him outside of his house’s locked gate.

The complainant also said that Police Officer 2 Joebert Detorio and a civilian repeatedly pummeled his head while Sustento took Detorio’s gun, then cocked and pointed it to his head.

Braga backed Samontosa’s allegations, adding that Sustento even squeezed the trigger of the firearm pointed at her several times, but it did not discharge.

Sustento and his subordinates denied the allegations.

In 2014, the Ombudsman ruled to dismiss Sustento who then appealed the case with the Court of Appeals.

The CA sustained the Ombudsman’s findings but lowered the penalty from dismissal to demotion. Thus, Sustento was reinstated in the PNP but with a lower rank of captain as penalty for his conduct.

Biron said he could not fathom why he was being insulted relative to the cases of Pinuela and Sustento when the two officials were afforded due process by the Ombudsman.

“I learned today (Thursday) after I was informed of the insults thrown at my name during a radio interview that Lieutenant Colonel Pinuela was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman as a result of a complaint filed by another private citizen. I cannot stress this enough: WALA AKO NAGAHILABOT KAG WALA AKO SANG KAPASIDAD MAGHILABOT SA DESISYON SANG OMBUDSMAN SA MGA KASO NILA. They were afforded due process in the years it took the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the cases,” he added.

Biron said he has nothing but “respect and support for the PNP and our justice system. The same respect and support I extend to the Office of the Ombudsman.”

While he welcomes criticisms, he said he has no recourse but to defend his name from unsubstantiated against him.

“Sustento, for many years now, has been making unsubstantiated, slanderous claims against me. He also issued threatening remarks laced with criminal intent. Now I have no choice but to defend myself in our courts of justice. Ours is a democracy, thus we welcome criticisms even from obvious politically-motivated sectors out to do the biddings of their political masters.  But we have also the right to defend our name with truth and fairness, without which there is no justice.”