PNP to probe custodial officers over ‘party pics’
MANILA, Philippines—Custodial officials of the Philippine National Police have been put on the spot, after photos surfaced showing detained Sen. Bong Revilla attending the 91st birthday party of fellow detainee Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile at the PNP General Hospital.
On Wednesday, Interior secretary Mar Roxas ordered a “full-dress investigation” into the photographed meeting that allegedly happened on Feb. 15, when the two detained senators were supposed to be confined in separate detention facilities.
Revilla, who is detained at the PNP custodial center, and Enrile, who is on hospital arrest, are both facing plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
In a statement, PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Dir. Gen. Leonardo Espina said the investigation would focus on the custodial officials of the PNP headquarters support service under Chief Supt. Alberto Supapo.
The investigation, to be led by PNP director for Investigation and Detective Management Francisco Don Montenegro, would seek to “validate the circumstances” of the photographs that showed Revilla sitting with Enrile around a table in what appears to be a hospital room.
The prosecution panel, which released the photographs, decried the alleged special privileges being accorded to Revilla, and sought his transfer to a regular jail.
Revilla, who had earlier claimed that he was brought to the hospital for a medical emergency met Enrile “accidentally,” according to PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo.
Supapo’s initial report backed this story, as he stated that Revilla was brought to the PNP hospital at 4:28 p.m. on Feb. 14 to undergo a checkup and that at 4:52 p.m., the senator and Enrile had “a chance meeting” at the hallway of the hospital where they exchanged pleasantries.
Supapo said Revilla and the security escorts went back to the PNP custodial center at 4:55 p.m., or three minutes from the encounter.
In a phone interview, Supapo said the PNP headquarters support service had launched its own probe, but had yet to receive the formal statement of Senior Insp. Celina Tapaoan, the custodial security unit officer of the day who led four other personnel in escorting Revilla to the hospital.
He added that based on informal discussions with the escort team, the room in the photos and the room where Revilla had his checkup were allegedly adjacent to each other.
“So when (Revilla) had his checkup, he might have ran into (Enrile) who invited him in,” Supapo said.
The official said results of the investigation will be used to determine the next course of action, and whether the escort team could be held liable for any lapses.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said Wednesday that it was the Sandiganbayan’s call to decide whether or not to scrutinize Revilla’s visit to Enrile.
“If there’s anybody who should feel angry, it’s the court. The strictness or the level of scrutiny that this deserves should be determined by the court,” Pimentel said, adding that the visit was in defiance of a court order for Revilla to be detained at the PNP Custodial Center.
“It will be up to the court to decide whether this is justified,” the senator said.
It’s also the call of the prosecutors to move for Revilla’s transfer, Pimentel added.
“Wherever he will be detained, if there is a medical emergency, that should be addressed,” he said.
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.