Young cop blames senior buddy: Doing a ‘Code 2’ on Espina sonBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Police Officer 2 Resty del Rosario considered not reporting for duty that Tuesday, when his child turned four months old.
Little did he know that he and his patrol buddy, whom he just met that day, would later find themselves deep in trouble on allegations that they extorted money—“Code 2” in cop slang— from a motorist who turned out to be a police general’s son.
“I felt like my heart was being crushed when I heard a radio report mentioning my name in the incident. I was in the patrol car the whole time,” said the 28-year-old Del Rosario, a member of the Quezon City Police District.
The new father maintained that he never knew his partner—SPO4 Jose de la Peña— prior to Sept. 4 when they were paired together to go on patrol from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Del Rosario—now stripped of his badge and gun—insisted that it was the older policeman who dealt the whole time with the 22-year-old son of Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina, the newly installed director of the National Capital Region Police Office.
The two officers have been relieved and are facing charges after the elder Espina confirmed the extortion attempt.
According to the NCRPO chief, it was De la Peña who approached his son while parked in Quezon City and accused him of engaging in “phone sex.” De la Peña then took over the wheel and forced the victim to find an ATM booth, while Del Rosario tailed them in the police car.
The scheme was foiled when the younger Espina managed to call his father and handed the phone to De la Peña just as he was about to withdraw the money demanded by the policeman.
In the interview, Del Rosario said he voiced his objection to what De la Peña did after the latter retreated to their patrol car and let the younger Espina go.
‘What you did was wrong’
“I told him, ’Ta, what you did was wrong. You shouldn’t have done that. It’s not in our police operational procedures,” he recalled telling his partner.
Until Tuesday’s episode, Del Rosario’s record has remained unblemished in his five years in the force. De la Peña, on the other hand, has faced seven administrative complaints for alleged misconduct since 2006.
Recounting the events that night, Del Rosario said he and De la Peña, a field supervisor and the night’s designated driver, were tasked to patrol areas falling under four police substations.
At around 9 p.m., they were cruising along Hemady Street when they saw a parked Kia Rio. De la Peña then stopped the patrol car and told his partner to just stay in the vehicle.
“He even gave me the keys and said, ‘Here, you drive.’ So I just watched him walk to the other car,” Del Rosario said.
Moments later, the senior policeman walked back to the patrol car and told his partner to follow the red Kia. Del Rosario said he assumed that the motorist would be brought to the QCPD headquarters in Camp Karingal.
To his surprise, the red Kia, with De la Peña in it, turned to Santolan Road and stopped at an ATM terminal. It was at this point that he saw Espina’s son get out, his cell phone to his ear. De la Peña then called him back to the car a minute later.
“I wondered, why are we stopping at an ATM? We were supposed to bring the car to Camp Karingal. But at that time, I was supposed to follow his orders since he’s my supervisor,” Del Rosario said.
He said he had no way of contacting De la Peña from the patrol car since the latter had no handheld radio with him. He also didn’t have De la Peña’s cell phone number.
They then drove to another ATM terminal, but this time Espina’s son did not step out of the car. Later, the Kia sedan moved again until they reached Camp Crame.
De la Peña—who by then had confiscated the driver’s license of the younger Espina—got out of the Kia and hurried back to the patrol car, taking over the wheel as he spoke.
“His face was pale. He told me in a tense, low voice: ‘That was General Espina’s son. I talked to the general on the phone. But I wasn’t able to pull off a Code 2,” Del Rosario recalled.
The young officer felt his body go limp at the revelation, but it didn’t stop his angry outburst. “I was really mad. I kind of raised my voice at him. I knew it was wrong,” Del Rosario. That very moment, he said, he became worried that his five years in the service had just gone down the gutter.
Tension between buddies
De la Peña, apparently to defuse the tension between them, invited him to look for a place to eat.
However, the pair was called back to Camp Karingal an hour before their shift ended, and told to surrender the younger Espina’s license to their superior, Chief Insp. Jerome de la Cruz of the Mobile Patrol Unit.
Curiously, De la Cruz sought an explanation only from De la Peña. The partners were later ordered to give the license to Supt. Ferdinand Villanueva of the District Investigation and Detective Management Division.
As rumors about their misdeed began swirling around the station, Del Rosario went home with a heavy heart and stayed indoors the entire Wednesday to spend his day off with his baby.
On Thursday, he received a call from his unit ordering him to surrender his gun and badge before 9 p.m. Upon arrival, he learned that he and De la Peña had been relieved of their post.
Later that night, an unknown number was trying to call him on his cell phone: It turned out to be his missing partner.
“He asked me: ‘What’s the latest news there?’ I told him that we were supposed to show up here. He only said that he will try and that he’ll just text me from time to time,” Del Rosario said.
That was his last conversation with De la Peña, who has not reported for work since Tuesday night.
Hoping to explain his side and maintain his innocence, Del Rosario, accompanied by a superior, tried but failed to see Espina personally during the command turnover rites at the NCRPO headquarters in Taguig City on Friday.