House probe: 8-year-old kid says cops hit, coerced mom to admit selling illegal drugs
MANILA, Philippines — An eight-year-old child narrated to lawmakers from the House of Representatives that anti-narcotics officers of the Antipolo City Police Station hit her mother during a controversial anti-drug operation in October 2022 while asking her to admit involvement in the drug trade.
During the hearing of the House committee on public order and safety on Wednesday, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers asked the child of Ma. Victoria Perito, the drug suspect allegedly abducted for more than two hours before evidence was presented, if he can speak before the House.
In response, Perito allowed her child to testify. When asked by Barbers if the child remembers what transpired last October 13 in Antipolo’s Barangay San Roque, the eight-year-old kid said yes, and noted that arresting officers pulled the hair of her mother whenever she could not answer a question.
“Sinasabihan si mama, kinakausap si mama, bakit hindi nagsasabi ng totoo, sinasabunutan po siya, sinasaktan po [They talked to mama, asked her why she is not telling the truth, then they pulled her hair and hit her],” the child said when asked by Barbers.
“Habang nakasakay kayo sa kotse sinasaktan siya? Matagal ba kayong nakasakay sa kotse? [They did this while inside the car? Have you been riding the car long enough]?” Barbers asked.
“Opo, ‘pag di siya nakaksagot. Mga madaling araw na ata po [Yes, if she fails to answer. This happened late at night],” the child responded.
The accounts of Perito’s child also corroborated the drug suspect’s statements — that they were only on M. Santos Street in Antipolo, near the city hall to make an errand, and forward an envelope to a certain person.
The child said that after walking, they arrived near a barber shop on M. Santos Street, where Perito asked him to stay on the street for a while. After handing the envelope, police officers rushed toward Perito to subdue her.
“Pina-ano po ako, do’n po, no’ng naglalakad na po kami, sabi niya po sa akin do’n muna ako, kasi tatawid muna siya saka hihintayin ko raw siya. Pagtawid niya may umano na agad […] gabi po,” the child said.
(When we were walking, my mother told me to stay there because she would cross the street. After crossing the street, someone grabbed her immediately.)
“Kabisado mo ba kung saan? Malapit saan? [Do you know where it happened? Is this near somewhere]?” Barbers asked.
“Do’n po sa may ano, sa may pagupitan po […] Do’n po ‘yong kinuha ‘yong envelope at saka no’ng makatawid siya, inano po siya, inakbayan po si mama […] tinatawag ako sabi daw ‘mabait daw sila kaya pumunta sa akin’, kaya do’n kami pumunta, umupo na lang kami do’n,” the child replied.
(It happened near the barbershop. That was where someone got the envelope, and when they crossed the road, they grabbed her. They called out to me and said they were kind, so I went to them, and we sat there.)
Barbers asked P/Maj. Juan Carlo Porciuncula, team leader of the operation in question, if he would still maintain that Perito was arrested near the Deo Gracias resort in Antipolo, and not along M. Santos, because the child said that they were only brought there after roaming the city for more than two hours.
“Major, pinanindigan mo na hindi sa M. Santos nahuli si Victoria? At sinasabi mo Deo Gracias, do’n niyo siya hinuli, do’n niyo inimbentaryo ‘yong ebidensya?” Barbers asked.
(Major, do you maintain that Victoria was not arrested along M. Santos? And you insist that it was near Deo Gracias, that you arrested her and inventoried the evidence there?)
“Yes your honor,” Porciuncula replied.
“So walang katotohanan ‘yong sinasabi ni Victoria at saka ni [child] na sinakay niyo sila sa kotse, umikot-ikot, pinasyal niyo. Walang gano’n?” Barbers asked again.
(So what Victoria and her child are saying is not true, that you brought them to a car, and roamed around Antipolo, that didn’t happen?)
“Wala po [None] your honor,” Porciuncula said.
However, Antipolo 2nd District Rep. Romeo Acop, — author of House Resolution No. 776, which calls for a hearing on the supposed illegal buy-bust operations of the Antipolo police — showed a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage that confirms the claims of Perito and her child.
Acop’s congressional district covers the area where the arrest happened. Victims of the said illegal operation also asked for help from Acop, a former police general.
In the CCTV footage, it can be seen that men wearing civilian clothes ran toward 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 then noted that the operation was not a buy-bust operation but a kidnapping or an abduction because the evidence was presented only after the suspect was arrested.
The said panel tackled the illegal anti-drug operations in 2022, which were said to have deviated from the standard operating procedures of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Aside from Perito’s case, another case involved two young male suspects, one of which claimed he was only supposed to return a Bluetooth speaker to his friend. Upon arrival at his friend’s house — also in Antipolo — he was apprehended by police officers.
Relatives of the friend tried to protect the male suspect, who was only returning a speaker, only to find out that the owner of the speaker was also arrested. Similarly, they claim that the police officers took them for a ride before the evidence was presented.
Antipolo cops grilled for ‘abduction’ of drug suspects, lying before House panel
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