2nd cop charged in Edsa kidnap
MANILA, Philippines–One of the policemen allegedly involved in last week’s abduction and robbery on Edsa was charged on Tuesday in the Mandaluyong City Prosecutor’s Office.
Mandaluyong City policemen arrested on Monday PO2 Jonathan Rodriguez when he reported for duty at the Quezon City Police District’s Public Safety Battalion.
His alleged cohort, Chief Insp. Joseph de Vera, La Loma police station deputy commander, was arrested while on duty and charged in the city prosecutor’s office with highway robbery and kidnapping with serious illegal detention.
Seven other cohorts—Senior Insp. Oliver Villanueva, SPO1 Ramil Hachero, PO2 Weavin Masa, PO2 Mark de Paz, PO2 Jerome Datinguinoo and PO2 Ebonn Decatoria, and dismissed Insp. Marco Polo Estrera—are the subject of a hunt for their alleged involvement in the Sept. 1 abduction of two men on Edsa’s southbound lane in Barangay (village) Wack-Wack, Mandaluyong City.
All the suspects still unaccounted for are assigned to the La Loma police station in Quezon City except for Estrera, who was separated from the service in 2006 and who owns the blue Honda Civic (ZJB 149) that was used in the alleged kidnapping and robbery.
The charges against De Vera and Rodriguez stemmed from the incident in which Ustadz Samanodin Abdul Gafur and Camal Mama were accosted by the suspects along Edsa while they were on a white Toyota Fortuner and allegedly robbed of P2 million in cash.
While in the suspect’s custody, the victims claimed the policemen also took their automated teller machine cards and withdrew P119,000 from their bank accounts.
Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public that the Philippine National Police was implementing a “zero-tolerance” policy against rogue cops, and that they represented only a “very small proportion of the total strength” of the police force.
“It is important for communities to cooperate with their police,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters. “Our police are working hard to be deserving of the trust of the people.”
Coloma downplayed the impact of the Edsa highway robbery and abduction on the PNP’s effort to improve its public image.
“What would be a major blow is if there is no effort on the part of its leadership to clean up its ranks. What would be a major blow is if there would be a situation where the PNP is not doing its duty,” he said.
“The PNP is definitely on the ball and it’s doing its job, given the challenges of a large number of people to be covered and given the deficiencies in manpower and equipment that it’s still trying to address,” Coloma added.
List of names
It was De Vera who, maintaining that the Sept. 1 incident was a legitimate anti-illegal drugs operation, gave investigators the names of the other suspects.
Rodriguez underwent inquest proceedings on Tuesday before Assistant City Prosecutor Leynard Dumlao who recommended no bail for his temporary liberty.
Similarly, Assistant City Prosecutor Michael Dayao recommended on Monday the filing of criminal charges against De Vera and the denial of bail.
Detained in Mandaluyong
Both suspects are detained at the Mandaluyong City police holding cell.
Jinky Dimaporo, counsel for alleged victims Gafur and Mama, who was present during the Rodriguez inquest, said her clients were bent on pursuing the charges against the policemen.
Dimaporo said that the victims and their relatives were deeply grateful to the unidentified motorist who uploaded pictures of the incident on the Internet.
The photographs showed the license plates of two of the four vehicles, De Vera’s silver gray Toyota Hiace Commuter van (YF 9767) and Estrera’s blue Honda Civic, which were used to block the victims’ sport utility vehicle.
The PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) will be stepping into the case of eight active Quezon City policemen tagged in the abduction and robbery of two men on Edsa.
The PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, said Director General Alan Purisima had directed the IAS to investigate the case as well.
“Administrative cases are being readied against them. Normally, a complainant is required before the IAS can act, but the IAS can investigate on its own initiative upon orders of the PNP chief,” Sindac said.
Sindac said the active policemen were ordered to report for duty after being linked to the controversial case, but failed to do so.
The PNP follows a strict process in dealing with Awol (absence without leave) cases especially if these are linked to crimes perpetrated by men in uniform.
After the observance of due process, policemen on Awol will be dropped from the rolls and removed from the payroll, with the erring cops notified of the developments every step of the way.
The process usually takes a month or so to complete from the day they went on Awol, according to Sindac.
“Going on Awol means dereliction of duty. These policemen are tasked to perform certain duties which they no longer do because they are no longer reporting for work,” he said.
Few rotten fruits
The scandal blew up in the face of the PNP but Sindac appealed to the public to remain vigilant and help them rid the police ranks of a few rotten apples.
“There may be misfits in our ranks, a few rotten fruits but it doesn’t mean that the whole basket is rotten. With the public’s help, we need to weed out the scalawags so the whole organization won’t be affected,” he said.
He said that aside from going after crooks in uniform, the PNP was pursuing programs for moral recovery and values formation of the 148,000-strong police force.
“Sometimes an individual’s personality is a factor. When they become policemen, they already have a distinct personality and character. We can only do so much to train them to be good cops, but it still boils down to character,” Sindac said.
He conceded that some scalawags tended to “test the system,” starting out from small offenses and then graduating to big-time crimes until they get caught.
To serve, protect
He also stressed that it was the PNP that went after its own as proof of its sworn oath to serve and protect.
“We were entrusted with this badge, armed with weapons to ensure the public’s safety and security, and that is what we will continue to do,” the official said.
Sindac added: “The majority of the PNP is still there, doing their job with dedication and diligence that we will ensure your safety in your homes and places of work.”
Part of the PNP’s efforts in weeding out misfits is reviewing the application and training process for policemen.
“We are revisiting the process of recruitment and training. It is possible that there is an existing group that teaches the new recruits illegal activities. We want this kind of bad influence ended for good,” he said.
Sindac conceded that while the eight policemen attracted bad publicity on their own and dragged the whole organization into the mess, this would not stop the PNP from running after criminals, “whether they are members of our own ranks or hard-core criminals.”