MANILA, Philippines - Six Manila policemen have been criminally charged for failing to show up as prosecution witnesses in four drug cases being heard at the Manila Regional Trial Courts.
Two other cops were cleared.
Charged were Police Officers 3 Ernesto Hetigan and Dennis Insierto, and PO2 Cedric Altea; PO2 Fernan de Jesus; Senior Police Officer 2 Julius Payoyo; and PO1 Daniel Miram.
Cleared were PO2 Edgardo Palabay and PO3 Ferdinand Estrada.
On the complaints of the Manila Police District General Assignments Section, the city prosecutor's office charged the six policemen with violation of Section 91 of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Section 91 seeks 12 to 20 years imprisonment or a P500,000 fine for law enforcement agencies who, despite notification, fail to show up as prosecution witnesses in drug cases, either intentionally or by negligence.
Hetigan, Insierto and Altea failed to appear as prosecution witnesses in the "People Vs Romulo Malunday case," which was dismissed due to their absence.
The absence of Palabay, De Jesus and Estrada in the trials for "People vs Joseph Clemente" likewise led to the provisional dismissal of the case.
Senior Police Officer 2 Julius Payoyo was charged for being absent from the hearings for "People vs Gerardo Delena"; and PO1 Daniel Miram for "People vs Sheila Deta Silva and Marlon Enano." Both cases were also dismissed.
Heligan and Insierto said in their counter-affidavit that the complaint lacked factual and legal bases since "they were not furnished nor did they receive the copy of the subpoena sent by the court, which they later found out was received by other members of their station but were not given to them.
Altea and Estrada likewise denied receiving subpoenas, and said they were not arresting officers in their respective cases. Estrada said his subpoena was misplaced by the clerk of court.
Palabay said he was not notified of the schedule of trials nor given a subpoena because he was transferred to other stations.
Reynaldo Liwanag, assistant city prosecutor, recommended the dismissal of the complaints against Estrada and Palabay, but said the alibis of the six other policemen "cannot be given due weight since it is self-serving and remain uncorroborated."