CA allows admin raps vs QC cops for illegal arrest of Failon househelps
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals has reversed its earlier ruling that dismissed administrative charges against police officials accused of illegally arresting members of the household staff of broadcaster Ted Failon shortly after the death of his wife from a gunshot wound in 2009.
In a nine-page decision, the appellate court’s Former Fourth Division partly granted the motion for reconsideration filed by Failon and other petitioners, saying there was enough evidence to charge Chief Supt. Roberto Rosales and Chief Supt. Elmo San Diego administratively under the doctrine of command responsibility that was laid down by Executive Order 226 series of 1995.
EO 226 is also known as the “Institutionalization of the Doctrine of Command Responsibility in all Government Offices, particularly at all Levels of Command in the Philippine National Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies.”
In its new ruling dated December 4, the appeals court, through the decision written by Justice Ricardo Rosario, pointed out that Rosales and San Diego “failed to take preventive or corrective action when their subordinates performed an act which later was adjudged to be irregular.”
“Given this finding, and considering that they can be charged with knowledge of said unlawful act of their subordinates, we submit that there is cause to hold them for trial for violation of the provisions of EO 226,” the court said.
The other division members, Justices Florito Macalino and Leoncia Real-Dimagiba, concurred with the ruling.
In April 2009, Failon’s wife Trinidad Etong was brought to the hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound in the head. She succumbed to the injury.
Failon was arrested, allegedly for tampering with the crime scene, although he was able to leave police custody the following day.
However, the family driver and three housemaids of the Failon family— Pacifico Arteche Apacible, Glen Polan, Pamela Arteche-Trinchera and Maximo Arteche—were arrested a few days later and charged by the Quezon City police with obstruction of justice, for allegedly destroying important evidence in the case.
The National Bureau of Investigation later ruled that Trinidad’s death was a suicide allegedly due to her depression. Failon and the others were cleared of the obstruction charges in March 2010.
Failon and his household staff later filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a complaint against Rosales, San Diego and nine other police officers and personnel for violation of EO 226.
Section 1 of EO 226 states that “any government official or supervisor, or officer of the Philippine National Police or that of any other law enforcement agency shall be held accountable for ‘Neglect of Duty’ under the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’ if he has knowledge that a crime or offense shall be committed, is being committed, or has been committed by his subordinates, or by others within his area of responsibility and, despite such knowledge, he did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during, or immediately after its commission.”
In June 2011, the Ombudsman dismissed the complaint, prompting Failon and the others to elevate the case to the Court of Appeals, which upheld the ruling last February.
The National Police Commission, which supervises the PNP, separately ruled in June 2009 that the warrantless arrest of the petitioners was illegal, holding some of the police officers administratively liable for grave misconduct and ordering their suspension for six months and relief from their assignments.
The Court of Appeals Special 17th Division upheld the Napolcom’s ruling in September 2011.
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