By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

FAKE. The police uniform and other items used by a reported six suspects in the robbery of Agencia Brillantes pawnshop in Koronadal City, South Cotabato on Feb. 21, 2024, recovered by the police by the roadside in Barangay Saravia. The suspects pretended to serve an arrest warrant against one of the pawnshop employees. (Photo courtesy of PCADG-12)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said it would tighten its check of stores selling police uniforms and insignia.

“With this incident, I directed already aside from being a regular activity, ire-reemphasize natin ulit (We will re-emphasized) that they should be strict in implementing this provision of the law and also we will be watchful of these stores,” PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said during a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

On Feb. 21, two of six suspects in the robbery of a pawnshop in Koronadal City, South Cotabato were clad in police athletic uniforms, based on the closed circuit television camera footage obtained by authorities.

Acorda said the suspects who wore police uniforms may face charges of usurpation of authority and illegal use of uniform and insignia under Articles 177 and 179 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

“There are provisions of the law that bans the wearing of PNP and military uniforms. It is a violation of Article 179  of the Revised Penal Code and this will be aggravated lalo na kapag habang nakasuot ang mga ito at ginamit mo sa mga krimen (especially if you wear these while committing a crime). With regards to the penalty, its prison mayor, penalty of six years or more and its use in committing a crime would be an aggravating circumstance,” Acorda stressed.

Acorda, meanwhile, said they already have leads on the culprits behind the robbery.

“May mga nakuhanan na tayo na mga statements (We have obtained statements from witnesses) identifying the suspects and we have some leads. Unfortunately, hindi ko puwede sabihin ngayon (I cannot reveal it right now), that will help us better pursue leads para hindi naman maalarma (so that the suspects will not be alarmed),” the PNP chief said.

Last week, the Koronadal city government offered a PHP500,000 cash reward to anyone who can provide authorities with the information leading to the arrest of the suspects. (PNA)