PNP chief, General Benjie Acorda on Monday did not mince any word in warning rogue cops that they will be hunted down, jailed and prosecuted under his watch.
Target of his ire in particular were the members of the Angeles City Police Station 2 in Pampanga who were arrested by agents of the PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Warren De Leon for illegally arresting and detaining without any charges 15 poor Pinoys and demanding money in exchange for their liberty.
It was really a sort of ‘bangketa, a hulidap’ operation which made the top cop angry, very angry that he mentioned the incident when he spoke at Camp Crame’s flag-raising rites.
Known for his cool and calculated moves, Gen. Acorda could not hide his feelings anymore when asked by journalists on the Angeles City incident.
“Kung kriminal talaga yung tao, i-file ninyo ang kaso at huwag na pagkaperahan. I appeal to our police officers na wag na paglaruan ang serbisyo kung talagang mahal nyo ang serbisyo niyo, make sure that all complaints are addressed. Kung kriminal din ang nagsusumbong, kung dapat makulong ikulong.” These are his words.
Gen. Acorda told me he really doesn’t’ want his punches telegraphed by misfits and scalawags in the police force. However, he was forced to reveal some of his actions when grilled by the press. His warning: rogue cops will face the maximum penalty of dismissal from the force apart from seeing themselves behind bars too once they are arrested.
He referred to the PNP-IMEG ‘raid’ at the Angeles City Police Station 2 in Pampanga last Friday which led in the arrest of the local police chief and six of his men who were accused of illegally arresting and detaining without any charges 15 persons and demanding money for their freedom.
“I’m saddened that despite our appeals, our announcements, meron pa ring iilan na lokong mga pulis. But I am looking at it positively na nagkakalakas na ng loob ang mga kababayan natin to report illegal activities and me positive action agad ang police officers natin,” Gen. Acorda said.
“That’s a proof that police are acting positively if their colleagues are acting in an irregular way. That’s community engagement. This gives credence to our community that when they report something, positive actions will be done immediately,” he added.
The PNP chief lauded the PNP-IMEG for their latest accomplishment last Friday even as he ordered aggressive actions including on-the-spot inspection of all police lock-up facilities to prevent similar illegal activities such as those discovered inside the Angeles City Police Station 2.
Gen. Acorda ordered the PNP-IMEG, the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office headed by Brig. Gen. Limuel Obon and the PNP Internal Affairs Service represented by Deputy Inspector General, Brig. Gen. Joker Suanzo to lead the inspection of their lock-up facilities.
He also said that the Angeles City Police Office director, Colonel Juritz Rara is also not off the hook yet with regard to the Station 2 policemen’s case. The PNP chief directed Major Gen. Emmanuel Peralta, the PNP Chief of Directorial Staff to make sure that Rara e director will also be placed under investigation for command responsibility in the aftermath of the PNP-IMEG operation.
“I’m directing the TCDS to make sure that not only the station commander, but we also look at the negligence of the City Director. Hindi ba siya nag-iinspect? Hindi ba siya lumalabas ng opisina niya,?” the PNP chief said.
“This should be a reminder to our commanders on the ground. Lumabas ka sa opisina mo. Mag-inspect ka. Let this be a part of their credentials that when they are being slated for higher position, kung pabaya siya dati, hindi siya dapat ma-promote o mabigyan ng mas magandang puwesto pa,” Gen. Acorda said.
As I have said in a previous column, it it would be timely and proper for all concerned Police Regional and Provincial and City Directors as well as all chiefs of Numbered Police Stations and City and Municipal Police Stations to monitor what is happening in their lock-up facilities.
Conduct of so-called Greyhound operations should not only be aimed at arresting the smuggling of contrabands like drugs, mobile phones and other banned items but also to see if the ’12, 18, 36 Rule’ is being followed to the letter since it is against the law and really smacks of human rights violation and extortion by some rogues in uniform.
I was informed that some units like those from the Calabarzon police are regularly checking their lock-up cells, both in the PPO headquarters and the station level.
At the Laguna PPO, I learned that the Provincial HRAO is submitting a daily consolidated report on the number of PUPCs in the province’s 30 police stations. The report include the breakdown of the male and female detainees and their respective cases. That is highly laudable since it would prevent irregularities similar to that committed by the Angeles City policemen.
Brig. Gen. De Leon told a press conference that they discovered that the accused Angeles City policemen were involved in so-called ‘planting’ of evidence. “Kaya nahuli ang mga tao pinasok ang mga bahay pero no cases were filed kaya me irregularity. We also found out that me mga kaso din yung mga pulis na nahuli, sa 7 pulis, me 5 na me administrative cases although nakabalik na sila sa duty after serving their suspension,” he said.
Brig. Gen. De Leon said that it also appeared that the arrested policemen were pouncing on targets who have previous criminal records, mostly for drugs. The official’s classmate from PNP Academy Class 1993, Brig. Gen. Cuanzo said they are conducting a parallel investigation into the Angeles City incident.
Last Friday, PNP-IMEG agents arrested the chief of the Angeles City Police Station 2, Major Marvin Aquino and six of his men accused of illegally arresting and detaining without any charges 15 persons and demanding money in exchange for their liberty.
It turned out that 15 persons have been locked up at the Angeles City Police Station 2 Persons Under Police Custody or PUPCs without any criminal charges filed since their arrest in full violation of the so-called ’12, 18, 36 Rule.’
Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code says that authorities will not face arbitrary detention charges if they will deliver a suspect to judicial authorities within the following specific timeframes: 12 hours for a person accused of a crime punishably by light penalties; 18 hours for crime punishable by correctional penalties and 36 hours for crimes punishable by capital penalties.
As of press time, Brig. Gen. De Leon said that Major Aquino and his men, Master Sergeant Romulo Meligrito, Staff Sgts. Nikko Dave Marquez and Mark Steven Sison and Corporals Richard Gozum, Diosdado Villamor Jr. and Jaypee Mangilit as well as their ‘civilian asset’ Esmael Arviol who yielded an unlicensed caliber .38 revolver remained locked-up at the PNP-IMEG jail in Camp Crame.
The surprise inspection of the Angeles City Police Station 2 jail came after a woman went to the PNP-IMEG to complain that her mother, a vendor was illegally arrested and arbitrarily detained by the Angeles City policemen for alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 inside their residence in Barangay Amsic in Angeles City around 11 p.m. last May 28.
The complainant said that personnel of the Angeles City Police Station 2 demanded P30,000 from her in exchange for the filing of a mere case for violation of Presidential Decree 1602 or the anti-illegal gambling law instead of RA 9165.
In response, Brig. Gen. De Leon said that with the help of the Angeles City PNP Internal Affairs Service, the Angeles City Police Office and the PNP Special Action Force, they conducted a surprise inspection of all Persons Under Police Custody or PUPCs at the Angeles City PS 2 on Friday morning.
The inspection led in the discovery that the woman and 14 others were being held inside the jail without any criminal charges as of Friday. One of the 15 is a teenager who has been in detention since last May 4 while the rest were arrested either on May 27,28 and 29 although no charges have been filed against them.
The PUPCs were all ordinary Filipinos working either as vendors, construction workers, housekeepers and tricycle and truck drivers, the PNP-IMEG chief said.