Police officials in charge of Revilla, Jinggoy sacked
MANILA, Philippines—Police officials in charge of the senators detained in Camp Crame, the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City, were relieved following the “side trip” of two senators to the birthday celebration of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile at the camp hospital on Feb. 14.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas slammed the police officials’ disregard for rules governing detainees as an insult to the memory of the 44 Special Action Force troopers who died as heroes in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province.
“The past weeks, we have been talking about bravery. These recent events are a disrespect to their badge and their duty. Some of our policemen have sacrificed their lives, while these policemen are only tasked to guard detainees and yet they let them slip off to other places,” Roxas said.
Ordered relieved were Chief Supt. Alberto Supapo, head of the Headquarters Support Service (HSS), and his subordinate, Senior Insp. Celina Tapaoan. Other junior officers are under investigation.
Supt. Elmer Beltejar will be the officer in charge of the HSS in the meantime.
In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Roxas said the policemen were relieved because of lapses allegedly committed during the “hospital visits” of Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla to PNP General Hospital on Valentine’s Day.
That day was the 91st birthday of Enrile, who is under hospital arrest due to his advanced age and medical condition. The three senators are facing graft and plunder charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
The PNP officer in charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, said the relieved officials were being investigated for administrative and criminal charges, as well as perjury for suspicion of lying under oath about what really happened that day.
The HSS initially claimed that Revilla and Enrile “accidentally met” at the PNP hospital, in response to allegations and photographs showing Revilla at the gathering.
But there seemed to be a different version, according to the PNP health service, which said Revilla and Estrada never visited the emergency room for their ailments.
The PNP health service spokesperson, Chief Insp. Raymond Santos, said he was the doctor on duty at the emergency room on Feb. 14 during the two senators’ visit there.
Estrada was the first to visit the hospital at 1:25 p.m. that day, complaining of hypertension. But instead of going to the emergency room, the senator allegedly crossed the parking lot and went straight to the specialty ward, which was in a different building and near Enrile’s gathering.
Santos said he conducted a medical examination on Estrada at the specialty ward and found that the senator’s blood pressure was within normal range.
Within 10 minutes, the senator was sent back to the PNP Custodial Center with no medication given to him.
In Revilla’s case, Revilla complained of headache and like Estrada, went straight to the specialty ward where the doctors found him at 4:25 p.m. Santos said he received a memorandum for him to conduct a checkup on the senator.
According to Santos, Revilla had a blood pressure of 130/90 and was given paracetamol for his headache, after which he was sent back to his detention cell at 4:55 p.m.
“I was at the emergency room the entire day and I did not see the senators there,” said the PNP health service spokesperson.
Roxas maintained that the senators’ custodians were responsible for their whereabouts and that they should be strictly enforcing the rules on detainees.
“The area where Senator Enrile was holding a gathering has nothing to do with the emergency room where the senators should be if they have a medical complaint,” said the interior secretary.
Roxas added that the two senators roaming in the hospital despite not feeling well was not the actuation of someone who was ill.
“There are claims that they went to the emergency room and the doctor was not there. So, they looked for him in the specialty ward. But the doctor was there the whole time. Is that one who is sick? The ones liable for them now are their custodians,” he said.
The interior secretary noted that the incident was a violation of PNP policies on detention and is a shame considering that policemen could not impose such simple rules.
He pointed out that if the policemen were pressured into allowing the senators to go on a side trip, the policemen should have stood their ground and said they had a duty to carry out and court orders to follow.
“They should be keeping an eye on the detainees. The ones being put at risk are the ordinary policemen whose careers are endangered,” Roxas said.
Probe by CIDG
Espina said the investigation would be spearheaded by the Major Crimes Investigation Unit under the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), to be supervised by the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management.
“There will be criminal and administrative charges filed against all those culpable,” said the PNP officer in charge.
However, the PNP will still follow protocol for detainees who may complain of illnesses—which is bringing them to the emergency room for a checkup and not to other places in the hospital.
“We have to be very strict in terms of rules and regulations concerning detainees. We have to follow them to the letter because one mistake can be very critical, important. That’s why we stick to the rules. We have to follow all to the letter. That is their responsibility,” Espina said.
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