Antipolo cops grilled for ‘abduction’ of drug suspects, lying before House panel
MANILA, Philippines — Officers from the Antipolo City Police Station were questioned for allegedly ‘abducting’ drug suspects arrested in buy-bust operations in 2022, deviating from the standard operating procedures of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
At the hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on public order and safety on Wednesday, lawmakers heard the testimony of Ma. Victoria Perito, who was arrested on October 13, 2022 after fetching her son from school. According to Perito, she was arrested after she handed over an envelope near a barber shop in Barangay San Roque — an errand she was sent on by someone.
After that, Perito said she and her son were taken into a sports utility vehicle and for two hours were asked to admit to trading illegal drugs while supposedly sustaining hits from the police officers.
“At around 6:30 or 6:45 p.m., after they arrested me, they had me sit on the sidewalk, where we waited for the car to arrive. It took about 15 minutes because the car was just near the city hall,” Perito, speaking in Filipino, told Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers during the hearing.
“They asked me to get into the car but after that, as we were moving, they asked me to admit who I am working for, who are with me, or who can I point to, but I did not really have any knowledge of that,” she added.
Barbers then asked what happened next, and Perito responded that the police officers went around Antipolo over the next two hours.
“We went around the city proper not just in minutes but hours; we stopped by Barangay San Roque because they wanted me to leave my son there, but I refused. We were moving for around two hours because we were not moving quickly,” she answered.
Barbers then asked the committee members — some of whom are former police officers like Antipolo 2nd District Rep. Romeo Acop, who filed a resolution on the matter — if this was standard procedure. Barbers also turned his attention to P/Maj. Juan Carlo Porciuncula, team leader of the operations, who clarified that the time of operation against Perito was around 10:30 p.m.
“Mr. Chairman, I don’t know if this is the standard operating procedure because I would rely in the wisdom of our officers here, ‘yong dalawang oras na pasyal-pasyal, does that constitute kidnapping or abduction?” Barbers asked.
“For clarification purposes your Honor, sir, the time of arrest on Ma. Victoria, based on records, is on or about 10:45 p.m.,” Porciuncula said.
Acop then interjected if Porciuncula’s statements were based on the records — later revealing that a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera showed men in civilian attire apprehending Perito along P. Burgos corner M. Santos Streets in Barangay San Roque — just near Antipolo’s City Hall.
In the CCTV footage, it can be seen that men wearing civilian clothes ran towards Perito at around 6:33 p.m. — after which a car using a civilian plate backed up and was used to transport the suspect.
Both Acop and Barbers maintained that it was a kidnapping or an abduction because the evidence was presented only after the suspect was arrested.
“I doubt whether there was a buy-bust conducted; there was an abduction conducted as far as this representation is concerned,” Acop said.
Barbers then asked Porciuncula if he still maintains that the operation actually took place at 10:45 p.m., near a resort in uphill Antipolo.
“Your Honor sir, first and foremost sir, it is only now that we saw the presentation of the CCTV,” Porciuncula said.
“I don’t care about the CCTV, I am asking if you are sticking by the circumstances of what happened, that you maintain that the arrest happened near the resort, until now, after this video?” Barbers asked.
“Yes your Honor,” Porciuncula replied.
Barbers then raised the possibility of citing the police officers in contempt
“As much as possible we’d like to help the PNP because we are allies here right? But if you have officers like these telling a lie to his teeth in this committee, I am compelled Mr. Chair to cite him in contempt and perhaps detain him here. Sinungaling eh,” Barbers noted.
The hearing was suspended around 12:30 p.m. due to time constraints, but a subsequent hearing would be held to clarify more matters.
The drug war of the past and current administrations have attracted criticism due to the supposed harsh nature of the operations, and due to cops accused of extorting money from suspects.
In 2021, then PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar ordered the Internal Affairs Service to expedite the summary dismissal proceedings against an anti-drug police officer for charges of possession of illegal drugs and firearms and kidnapping.
READ: Antinarc cop, 3 others nabbed for kidnapping, drugs
In the same year, police officers were tagged by assets as people responsible for the kidnapping of drug suspects in Manila.
READ: PNP to cooperate with NBI probe on ‘kidnapping’ by cops in Manila — Eleazar
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