Case closed: Full story on Edsa gun-poking incident
MANILA, Philippines – The mystery behind the viral photo of the gun-poking incident on Edsa has been solved. And it turned out that Quezon City policemen were allegedly the gunmen who were seen by a motorist cornering a white sport utility vehicle.
In a joint press conference, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Eastern Police District (EPD) revealed on Monday that eight members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were purportedly behind the brazen robbery and kidnapping incident on September 1 on the southbound lane of Edsa in Barangay (village) Wack Wack, Mandaluyong City.
Arrested were commissioned Quezon City Police District (QCPD) officers Chief Inspector Joseph de Vera and Senior Inspector Oliver Villanueva. Both are assigned at La Loma Police Station 1.
While two have been arrested, their colleagues at La Loma, including SPO1 Ramil Hachero, PO1 Mark de Paz, PO2 Ebonn Decatoria, PO2 Jerome Datinguinoo and POE Weavin Masa remain at large with another QCPD police PO2 Jonathan Rodriguez.
One of the still missing suspects is Senior Inspector Marco Polo Estrera. He was dismissed from police service in 2006.
Police said cases of brigandage and kidnapping with serious illegal detention were filed on Monday against the eight suspects.
Locked up at police station
Chief Superintendent Abelardo Villacorta, EPD chief, said in the briefing that the victims lost more than P2 million to the suspects who locked them up for seven hours at La Loma Police Station.
Based on the viral photo and gathered Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) from several establishments, police said the white Toyota Fortuner the victims rode were blocked by a black Fortuner, a Toyota Hi-Ace van (YF 9767), and a Honda Civic (ZJB 149).
The police then found that the black Fortuner, Hi-Ace van and Civic were owned and driven by Villanueva, De Vera and Estrera, respectively.
On Saturday, victims Ustadz Samanodin Abdul Gafur, a construction employee, and Camal Mama, driver, both from Maguing town in Lanao del Sur province surfaced and disclosed to the police that they were brought by De Vera’s group at La Loma police station after they were intercepted on Edsa around 2:45 p.m. on September 1.
They were then assisted by the police and was brought to La Loma police station where De Vera served as the officer-in-charge.
The victims told the police that they were forced by the group to withdraw from their bank accounts a total of P119,000 aside from the P2 million cash the suspects took from them.
Villacorta said the P2 million cash was intended to pay for the heavy equipment the victims’ Lanao del Sur-based boss would buy at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for a road construction project in Mindanao by a certain Engineer Cariong Malik.
“But prior to the incident, one of the victims talked to a woman, who was the ex-girlfriend of the victim,” he said.
Originally, the victims have set the transaction with their contact person at SM North Edsa in Quezon City.
But the police chief said the boss, after talking to the woman, had instructed the victims to transfer to Mall of Asia to hand the money to their contact person.
”We also consider the woman as suspect. Siya lang nakausap ng isang victim. Other than her, wala nang nakakaalam na sila ay may dalang pera,” Villacorta said.
Disguised as an anti-illegal drugs operation, Villacorta said De Vera initially claimed that it was a legitimate police operation, saying he and his men were part of the Special Anti-Illegal Drugs task force.
But De Vera later retracted this on Sunday as Villacorta and NCRPO chief Director General Carmelo Valmoria interrogated him and presented pieces of evidence the police gathered.
Police found that Villanueva was the mastermind. He rode the Black Fortuner with Rodriguez.
The man in the photo wearing a green shirt with handcuffs in his back pocket was Hachero, who boarded the van with De Vera.
Other suspects Masa, de Paz, Datinguinoo, and Decatoria served as lookouts.
Despite the policemen’s involvement in the crime, the NCRPO chief asked the public not to judge the 148,000-strong PNP force.
“Syempre masakit din sa amin but we will make sure that we will get rid of these scalawags. Nobody is above the law,” Valmoria stressed.