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QC top cop defends operation vs scalawags

Calls countercharges filed by antidrug exec axed over extort try harassment
Joselito Esquivel

Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel, QCPD director (Photo by EDWIN BACASMAS / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The head of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) defended on Sunday an entrapment operation that resulted in the dismissal of 17 police officers last year, calling the countercharges that had been filed by one of the sacked officials purely “harassment.”

Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel, QCPD director, also pledged legal assistance to the officers who conducted the operation that exposed alleged extortion activities within the Station Drug Enforcement Unit (SDEU) headed by Chief Insp. Erwin Guevarra of the Galas police station.

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“The complaint is purely a harassment suit. Contrary to the actions of the complainants, the operation was legitimate,” Esquivel said in a statement.

He noted the extraordinary nature of the countercharges filed by Guevarra in the Office of the Ombudsman — the first complaint brought by “police scalawags” against their former colleagues as the Philippine National Police has ramped up its internal cleansing.

Based on verified report

“This is a case where members of the PNP dutifully and lawfully conducted entrapment operations against SDEU Galas police station,” said Esquivel, who added that the operation had emanated from “a verified report of extortion activities.”

The operation in question was carried out on May 3, 2018, after Galas SDEU operatives arrested three drug suspects at Barangay Kristong Hari.

They then demanded P200,000 from a nephew of one of the suspects in exchange for their release.

The nephew, Lorenzo Miguel Soriano, delivered the money right inside the SDEU office.

But when the antidrug operatives attempted to extract an additional P100,000 from Soriano, he immediately reported the extortion try to authorities.

A joint team from the QCPD District Intelligence Division, District Special Operations Unit and Special Reaction Unit arrested the antidrug policemen inside the Galas police station at Barangay San Isidro that same day.

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Esquivel, underscoring the significance of the operation, said that “the PNP [had] been continually hounded by issues and concerns” of personnel involved in illegal activities.

Police officials, eager to refute the notion that “bad eggs” were being coddled, staged several high-profile entrapment operations last year.

Systemic problems

Critics argued, however, that the exposure of similar extortion practices in various antidrug units in Metro Manila pointed to systemic problems within the PNP.

Aside from Guevarra, charges for extortion at the Galas police station were also filed against Police Officers 2 Noel Sanchez, Peter James Sosa, Dhonnie Peralta, Gerald John Bote and Ryan Villanueva.

Other policemen who were included in the charge sheet were Police Officers 1 Edward Ramos, Michael Eric Ramirez, Ray John Rodriguez, Gaudencio Escoton Jr., Sepzon Suclad, John Ryan Rodriguez, Dennis Eria, Leny Atma, Mark Albert Tabernero, Jerry Cielo and Lester Jay Oliveros.

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TAGS: extortion attempt, Joselito Esquivel, Quezon City Police District
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