5 more cops in Edsa robbery yield
MANILA, Philippines–Five more policemen being linked to the Sept. 1 robbery-abduction on Edsa surrendered Thursday afternoon, bringing to eight the number of suspects already in the custody of their peers.
Still at large are the alleged mastermind Senior Insp. Oliver Villanueva, head of the La Loma police station’s investigation and intelligence unit, and his “mistah,” dismissed Insp. Marco Polo Estrera. Both are members of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Class of 2001, which disowned them Thursday and denounced their involvement in the “hulidap” incident.
In a press conference, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director Chief Supt. Richard Albano announced the surrender of SPO1 Ramil Hachero and Police Officers 2 Mark de Paz, Ebonn Decatoria, Jerome Datinguinoo and Weavin Masa, noncommissioned officers and detectives of the La Loma police station.
Albano said that after sending surrender feelers, the five were fetched by a police tracker team Thursday afternoon—Hachero in Malagasang, Cavite province, around 1 p.m. and the rest on Edsa-Ayala area in Makati City at 4 p.m.
Their lawyer, Ricardo Valmonte, said his clients had denied their involvement in the abduction of two employees of a Mindanao-based engineer-contractor on Edsa on Sept. 1. According to him, the five maintained that they were nowhere near the area at that time.
The Eastern Police District (EPD) however, had tagged Hachero as the man in a green shirt as shown in a photo of the incident which went viral shortly after it was uploaded by a netizen. The others, the EPD said, guarded the two victims at the La Loma police station where they were taken and detained for seven hours.
Valmonte also clarified that his clients did not surrender, saying they merely followed his advice to report back to the QCPD. The five, aside from Villanueva, have not shown up for work at the police station since Sunday, leading to their relief the following day.
The five were reportedly among the 10 policemen who accosted the victims who were in a Toyota Fortuner on Edsa and took the P2 million in cash they were carrying.
Earlier taken in the custody of the police were La Loma police station deputy commander Chief Insp. Joseph de Vera, also a member of PNPA Class 2001, who was the first to be accosted by EPD probers.
The second, PO2 Jonathan Rodriguez, was assigned to the same police station but transferred to the QCPD Public Safety Battalion in July.
Rodriguez later implicated Senior Insp. Allan Emlano as the one who commandeered the victims’ vehicle. Emlano, another PNPA Class 2001 member, yielded to authorities on Wednesday but denied his involvement.
‘Don’t be discouraged’
The surrender of the five policemen came hours after Albano and National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Carmelo Valmoria visited the La Loma police station to give a pep talk to the remaining lawmen who had been affected by the supposed involvement of their superiors and colleague in illegal activities.
“Don’t be discouraged. Just keep working. The La Loma police station has a good performance record. This issue implicated just a few members of the La Loma station, just a few members of QCPD, the NCRPO and the Philippine National Police,” Valmoria said.
After the EPD tagged the La Loma policemen, even the station commander, Supt. Osmundo de Guzman, was sacked for command responsibility.
Newly appointed La Loma station commander Supt. Dionisio Bartolome said there were around 145 personnel employees assigned to him, seven of them to the follow-up investigation unit to which some of the policemen who surrendered Thursday were assigned.
Meanwhile, the four policemen tagged in the robbery-abduction case have been disowned by their PNPA classmates.
Retired Chief Supt. Tomas Rentoy, chair of the PNPA Alumni Association (PNPAAA), said the four were also facing expulsion from the group.
“We are not tolerating them. We are bothered by this turn of events. We are denouncing what they did,” he said in an interview on Wednesday night.
He added that the PNPAAA board of directors had immediately convened its ethics committee to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations against De Vera, Emlano, Villanueva and Estrera.
Rentoy said the PNPA Class 2001 had decided to “ostracize” their fellow graduates for their supposed role in the robbery case. He pointed out that the 187-member class had already “severed their ties with their classmates.”–With Marlon Ramos
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.