‘Tanim-bala’ cop: I was once cited for honesty
IT WAS a fine, not a bribe demand.
An airport policeman tagged in the alleged “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) extortion scheme put up this defense against allegations that he was among the officers who asked P30,000 from an American supposedly caught carrying a .22-caliber round in his bag last year.
Chief Insp. Adriano Junio Jr. on Friday asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and private complainants Michael Lane White and his stepmother, Eloisa Zoleta.
Junio, an officer of the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group posted at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), said the charges should be tossed out for lack of probable cause. The NBI had sued him and several officers for robbery and extortion and violation of the antigraft law and the rights of arrested persons.
Junio, who described himself as a 20-year PNP veteran who had received awards for honesty and service, said he wanted to “clear my name and reputation which has been unfairly dragged into this controversy.”
“[I] vehemently deny the unfounded and unsubstantiated allegation of the complainant Zoleta that I uttered the words: ‘’Pag dito ’yan inayos, P30,000. ’Pag na-turn over na namin kayo sa headquarters, P80,000 na ’yan (If we have the case fixed here, it will cost you P30,000. When we turn this over to the headquarters, it will be P80,000),’” he said in a pleading filed in the DOJ.
He claimed explaining to Zoleta that the P30,000 may have been mentioned by the other officers who apprehended White on Sept. 17, 2015, when they cited the law penalizing illegal possession of ammunition. The law imposes a fine of P15,000 to P30,000 depending on the caliber, he said.
Junio said White himself did not identify him as the one who asked for a bribe. “Simply put, he cannot corroborate Zoleta’s allegation against me for the reason that it did not actually happen. This silence on the part of Mr. White speaks volumes as to my innocence of the crime charged.”
He added that he was not part of the X-ray inspection team that apprehended White, and that he even tried to calm the passenger down when he was brought to the PNP detachment. “I approached him and tried to make small talk to diffuse whatever tension or anxiety he may have been undergoing… I intentionally avoided asking him about the bullet recovered from him because I did not want him to feel as if he was being interrogated.”
The officer said he once earned a citation for returning a passenger’s clutch bag containing checks and cash worth P700,000. “In my long years of service in the PNP, I made sure that I render my service to the public with utmost probity and rectitude. I have never been involved in any cases of corruption, extortion or robbery in my entire service as a police officer as I value my name and the name of my family,” said Junio.
White, who had denied carrying the bullet, was cleared by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court in December last year.
Aside from Junio, also accused by the NBI were SPO4 Ramon Bernardo and SPO2s Rolando Clarin and Romy Navarro, who were given until Jan. 18 to file their counteraffidavit in the DOJ.
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