By: Francisco B Lindero, Jr.

Should there be one police officer in Region 6 that I admire the most in terms of field performance, that would be Police Chief Inspector Charlie Sustento.

This gentleman and officer consistently displayed excellence whatever and wherever his assignments be.

Earning his rank through the Lateral Entry Program of the Philippine National Police, Sustento proved his worth to the privilege by delivering unprecedented results.

He never was a puppet to anyone. He never allowed himself to be such. Rather, he lived faithfully by the oath he made for the country – “to serve without fear or favor.”

Undeniably, his professionalism, dedication and competence separated him from ordinary police officers. He is among the endangered species in the PNP.

But, I know, human being as he is, Sustento is not infallible. He could commit mistakes.

However, I was deeply disturbed hearing the news about Sustento’s dismissal from the service because allegedly he did something ‘unlikely’ in performance of his duty. The Ombudsman Visayas penned the decision.

If he did kill or murder a criminal, I could give the decision the benefit of the doubt that he may deserve the penalty.

Was it true that his case stemmed from the incident when he grabbed by the neck the complainant who acted discourteously in a police checkpoint? And for that act, he was dismissed from the police service? I hope the Ombudsman was simply joking in its decision against Sustento and three other police officers.

Dismissal as a penalty with accessory penalties, such as cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, and bar from taking civil service examinations, for “grabbing a person by the neck” is unreasonable. Again, I hope it is just a joke!

Obviously, Sustento and his men do not deserve this. It does not need one to finish a degree to know that this is not right.

And, I believe, the fate of Sustento and his men is a demoralizing reality today that faces not only Iloilo Police Provincial Office, but the whole of Police Regional Office 6.

The consistent outstanding performance of Sustento made him an icon of excellence in the police service. His litany of awards, with the most recent as the Best Junior PCO for Operations during the 116th Police Service Anniversary, is a testament that he has nothing in mind than giving the Ilonggos a police service that they truly deserve.

I am deeply sorrowed for his dismissal. But I have high hopes with the Ombudsman. It can revisit its decision and make amends. The Ilonggos need Sustento. In fact, we need more the likes of him to end criminality, especially illegal drugs and illegal gambling, in this part of the country.

To all the Ilonggos, let us #FightforSustento! He is a gift to all of us.

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