DAGUPAN CITY -? Director Roberto Rosales, the head of the Philippine National Police Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) in Northern Luzon, has challenged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prove that he and another police official were coddling the Dominguez car theft syndicate.
Rosales also asked the military to investigate the official who prepared the intelligence report that named him and Supt. Napoleon Cauyan, former head of the defunct Traffic Management Group (TMG) in Central Luzon, as the supposed protectors of brothers Raymond and Roger Dominguez, the suspected leaders of the Dominguez car theft group.
Rosales denied knowing the Dominguez brothers, saying he has not talked to them.
Rosales, in a telephone interview on Sunday, said he and Cauyan have become ?fall guys of a well-entrenched syndicate which has protectors at the Land Transportation Office, the police and other law enforcement agencies.?
?All of them will protect their members. How do they do that? How do they remove the heat from them? By pointing fingers at others,? he said.
Rosales said he was dismayed that the AFP, an institution that he said he respected, ?would come up with a report that has not been verified or validated.?
?I challenge the competence of that agency (an intelligence unit based in Camp Aguinaldo) and the official who prepared the report because in the end, I am sure the burden of proof is not with me, but with the people who accused me,? he said.
?They should be held responsible for their actions, for ruining my reputation as an officer, which has been unblemished for 33 years,? Rosales said.
He said he served as an intelligence officer for a long time and made sure to verify the contents of a report before submitting it for action to his superiors in the police.
When asked, Rosales said Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo had not called or written him to ask about his supposed link to the Dominguez car theft group.
Rosales said Director General Raul Bacalzo, PNP chief, called him on Sunday and asked him to attend an investigation that would look into allegations that police officers were coddling leaders of car theft syndicates.
The investigation has not been scheduled, he said.
In Bataan, Cauyan dismissed reports that he was coddling the Dominguez car theft syndicate.
He said he would identify people with links to the car theft syndicate in the proper forum so he could clear his name.
?Hindi ko alam kung sino may pakana niyang report na yan e (I do not know who is behind that report)," said Cauyan, a resident of Mariveles town.
Cauyan, who is on a ?floating status? in the PNP, is undergoing therapy after his left arm was wounded in an ambush.
He said his troubles started when he and his men in the TMG recovered 11 suspected stolen vehicles in 2002. ?I did not know that one of the owners of the car was a friend of high ranking government official,? he said.
Cauyan, however, declined to provide details on this case.
Rosales said he was sad that he was being tried by publicity and lamented that he was not given a chance to undergo proper investigation before the report was made public.
Rosales said that in his 33 years in the police service, there could be people or groups ?that we have hurt, or whose feet we stepped on, and who lost income because we stopped their illegal activities.?
?These people could be [creating a web of] stories to muddle the investigation on the [series of car thefts],? he said.
Rosales said the bigger challenge for him would be to explain to his family members and friends why he was being linked to a car theft syndicate amid his untarnished record in the police.
?They know how I live my civilian and professional lives. They know my accomplishments; there is no single case filed against me. So everyone was shocked and it is so difficult to explain... to them why I am in the thick of controversy, of an issue that I have no knowledge of,? Rosales said.
But the police official expressed confidence that he would overcome the controversy. ?We are okay, we can take this. In the end, the truth will set us free. But we have a reputation to protect and we welcome investigations to clear our name,? he said.
Rosales said Cauyan had provided him information about car theft syndicates during his (Rosales') stint as police director of the National Capital Region.
?The intelligence units validated the information and they turned out to be true. We conducted searches at the LTO Quezon City and we were able to [arrest] people who were involved in the syndicate,? he said.
?In houses around the LTO [compound], we retrieved boxes of documents like blank, genuine certificates of registrations and official receipts, and plate numbers. We filed cases against those involved. The cases are being heard,? he added.
Rosales said he also sued policemen from Manila and Quezon City who were suspected of involvement in car thefts.
Rosales said it would have been easier for him to accept money offered by drug syndicates that he busted, citing past police operations in Quezon where they seized 500 kilos of shabu.
?The money was already there, but I rejected the offer. In car theft, you still have to ?chop-chop? (disassemble) and sell the parts of [a stolen] vehicle. It?s a long and tedious process,? he said.
Despite the accusations, Rosales said support from his family, friends and people who know him never wavered. ?Happily, they do not believe the reports,? he said.
Rosales said he has received information from some people at the AFP's intelligence division that officials there did not know about the supposed report linking him and Cauyan to the operation of the Dominguez car theft syndicate.
In Bulacan, the lawyer of the Dominguez brothers said his clients did not know Rosales and Cauyan.
?Ang dami nang sumasawsaw. Lalo nang gumulo ang kuwento. Parang soap opera, dumadami ang character at istorya (Many people are riding on the issue and the story gets muddled. This is like a soap opera where new characters keep appearing and the plot taking several turns),? said lawyer Jose Cruz.
On Sunday, the Bulacan police exhumed a burned body found in Baliuag town on Dec. 24 after a witness in the killing of car dealer Venson Evangelista told police that the Dominguez brothers were behind that killing, too.
Senior Supt. Wendy Rosario, acting Bulacan police director, said the police sought clearance from the Baliuag municipal health officer to exhume the body so they could conduct an autopsy and get leads on the victim's identity.
Insp. Arnulfo Tanggol, deputy police chief of Baliuag, said the burned body was found in a vacant lot in Barangay Makinabang at about 8 a.m on Dec. 24.
Tanggol said no one claimed the body, forcing the police to order its burial at the Baliuag public cemetery.
(With reports from Greg Refraccion and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon)