In a 10-page decision dated May 22, Associate Justice Evalyn Arellano-Morales of the appellate court's Special 22nd Division upheld the penalty of one-month suspension meted by the Office of the Ombudsman against Executive Master Sgt. Gabino U. Sambaan Jr. and Patrolman Phebelle Aian D. Pacamalan.
The complainant, Reyky Balacuit, claimed that on the morning of Aug. 21, 2013, he was boarding a bus in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental to meet his brother. Upon disembarking from the bus, he was surprised to see the police officers who were in civilian attire.
Sambaan grabbed him and asked him to give whatever he was carrying but Balacuit refused. Balacuit was then dragged to the back of the bus terminal, ordered to pull down his pants and to raise one of his legs so Sambaan could conduct a body search.
Sambaan then placed his hands between Balacuit’s legs and touched his private parts in the presence of several people, causing the latter humiliation.
Pacamalan, who was present during the incident, did not do anything to prevent the alleged maltreatment.
In the ruling against the wayward policemen, the CA said "the Ombudsman correctly relied on the positive declaration of the private respondent that SPO4 Sambaan forced him to pull down his pants, and subsequently touch his (respondent’s) private body parts in front of several people ― in the presence of PO1 Pacamalan; who merely watched the unlawful conduct in dereliction of his official function.”
"Clearly, in the instant case, petitioners unlawfully and improperly transgressed their duties as law enforcement officers," the CA said.
"As a final note, this Court has repeatedly emphasized the time-honored rule that a public office is a public trust and public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives. This high constitutional standard of conduct is not intended to be mere rhetoric and taken lightly," it added.
Associate Justices Edgardo T. Lloren and Florencio M. Mamauag, Jr. concurred in the decision.