Driver in Bohol to sue cop who hit him with a bat, four other officers
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol — Jeffrey Sarabia, a 36-year-old tourist transport driver, walked slowly, his left thigh still aching because of a big bruise. That was where a police officer, whom Sarabia identified as PO1 Heracleo Padillo Jr., hit him with a baseball bat three days earlier.
Sarabia, 36, a resident of Booy District in this city, said he was driving a car for some guests, teachers from the Department of Education, on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 20, to a district office beside the Panglao town plaza.
While waiting for his guests, he amused himself by watching residents playing basketball near the district office.
He had forgotten to lock the car.
When they were about to go home, one of the teachers discovered that she had lost P2,500.
Since it was his fault, Sarabia said he would pay for the lost money. He had only P1,400 in cash. So he told his guest that he would pay the remaining balance when they reached the city.
The guests decided to report the incident to the police.
To his surprise, he was instead accused by police as the one who stole the money.
PO1 Mark Villanueva Yana, desk officer at the Panglao Municipal Police Station, said Sarabia and his guests went to the station to report the incident.
Yaba said that the teacher would file a complaint against Sarabia, because there were witnesses who saw him stealing the money.
But the teacher decided not to file the complaint and instead went home to Tagbilaran.
Sarabia insisted that after he filed the complaint police officers forced him to admit that he was the one who stole the money.
He said he was also harassed by four police officers on duty.
“Ingon sila nga walay kawatan sa Panglao unya giingnan ko nga kawatan daw ko unya dapat ibalik nako ang kuwarta,” he said.
[“They said that there is no theft in Panglaom and they were telling me that I am a thief and I need to return the money.”]
Sarabia said Padillo tgeb brought him to second floor of the police station.
Padillo told him to undress and he hit him with a baseball bat on the left portion of his thigh.
Sarabia said that an unidentified companion of Padillo told him: “Ug dili nimo iuli ang kuwarta madugangan ang imong kaso, planteran ka nako og duha ka putos karun.”
[“If you will not return the money there will be another case against you since we can plant two pieces of shabu) now]”
Frightened, Sarabia begged them to have mercy on him since he had two children, aged nine and four, and a pregnant wife waiting for him at home.
Yana clarified that Padillo was not part of the Panglao Police Station but a member of the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB)-Central Visayas. Padillo, he said, was part of the responding team assigned in Panglao as part of the augmentation force for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting.
Sarabia, who was detained for almost two hours, was released past 7 p.m.
Sarabia said he would not steal money from his guests.
“Dili nako na mabuhat kay dugay nako nag-drive. Kung buhaton nako na kinsa pa man mubalik sa Bohol tungod naguba na ang imahe sa Bohol,” he said.
[“I can’t do that. I have been driving many guests for the past years. And if I do that I would create a bad image of Bohol.”]
He said he had been a tourist driver for almost two decades.
“Unya mao gud na akong panginabuhian,” he added.
[“And besides it’s my livelihood.”]
The incident, he said, had traumatized him.
He plans to file a case against Padillo and four other police officers.
“Plano nako mo-file og kaso sa mga pulis nga nag-abuso nako para matagaan og katarungan ang nahitabo nako. Puwer lang sa ubang mga pulis nga buotan para dili na sila makabiktima og lain pa,” he said.
[“I am planning to file a case against the abusive police officers. I know there are good police officer, but I will file a case against them so that they can’t do it to other people.”]
Senior Supt Felipe Natividad, chief of the Bohol Police Provincial Office, said that the office had started investigating the incident.
Natividad advised him to file a proper complaint against the police officers.
“I was able to talk to the person himself – Jeffrey Sarabia. Na-medical na siya. We advised him na mag-file appropriate case against those police [officers] mga yun,” Natividad said. “We are investigating that. We advised nila yun na karapatan niya yun. We advised him kung saan siya puwede mag-file.”
He said he wouldn’t tolerate abusive police officers.
“And don’t worry: Hindi natin ito-tolerate. Kung mali yung police talagang kakasuhan natin sila,” he said.
Sarabia said the bruises on his leg would heal. But he would carry for the rest of his life the trauma he had with police officers whom he believed were there to serve and protect.
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