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Cops wondering over ‘RFI’ or released for further investigation rulings

February 15, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 1799 views

Alfred DalizonIMAGINE you’re a member of a police team who spent sleepless nights placing some moneyed law offenders under surveillance and later arresting them in the act of committing an actual crime? What will you do if days later, you will find the suspects you arrested getting a favorable ‘Released for Further Investigation’ or RFI ruling from a prosecutor?

This has been the predicament of many idealistic hardworking police officers and men in the country since I started covering the force in the late 80s. Many good cops who spent days, weeks or months to make an arrest are disappointed with RFI rulings made by many prosecutors who favored those charged instead of referring their cases to the court.

A few years ago, officers from the now defunct PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force told me they have forwarded to the PNP higher-ups and even the Department of Justice the names of some Manila City prosecutors who have issued RFI rulings on over a dozen cases for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 they filed.

I wonder what happened to the policemen’s complaints. What is glaring here is that instead of helping the PNP go after known drug personalities, the prosecutors themselves pounced on very minimal technicalities which could have been easily addressed had they fully communicated with the arresting officers. What happened to the so-called full partnership between the PNP and the DOJ in going after known drug personalities in the country? Did money really exchange hands here?

On Monday, I learned that 56 cockfighting afficionados arrested inside a compound in Pandacan, Manila where illegal ‘tupada’ games are being held were ordered Released for Further Investigation by a Manila prosecutor. The reason behind the RFI ruling: the PNP-CIDG agents who made the arrest and filed the case failed to get a certification from the Games and Amusement Board.

The incident has caught CIDG officers and men by surprise. In the first place, many of the ‘sabungeros’ apprehended inside the Baj Softdrinks Dealer compound at no. 2145 Beata Street in Pandacan, among them Barangay 846 chairman Allan Boado; Bgy. 887 chairman Antonio Bautista and Bgy. 843 ‘kagawad’ Albino Aguirre, have admitted during their inquest proceeding that they were inside the raided ‘tupada’ joint.

“Considering that the CIDG office has already received information about the alleged illegal cockfighting as early as February 1, 20220 and even had the chance to determine the veracity of the information received, they could have easily requested and obtained a negative certification from the GAB with respect to the authority and/or license of the place to operate as a cockpit, or if respondent Boado is licensed and/authorized to maintain/organize cockfights. However, none was attached to the records of the complaint,” the RFI ruling released by an Assistant City Prosecutor from the Manila City’s First Division and approved by the Deputy City Prosecutor said.

The 56 were charged for violation of Presidential Decree 449 as amended by Presidential Decree 1602 and Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code. The CIDG National Capital Region Field Unit complaint identified Boado as the ‘promoter’ of the illegal ‘tupada’ games inside his compound.

Officers also took videos of the people in the compound collecting bet money and shouting ‘meron/wala’ prior to the raid. During their inquest, the apprehended persons admitted they were indeed engaged in ‘tupada’ when the CIDG men conducted the raid. However, due to the absence of a GAB certification, they may go scot-free.

I learned that a number of influential people including some elected and appointed government officials tried to meddle for the immediate release of the 56. What truly disappoints the arresting officers is that they were not given any chance to produce the GAB certification which they can easily get, prior to the release of the RFI ruling. For them, all of the elements of the crime were satisfied when they filed the case although they ended up in the losing side because of a missing documentary requirement.

What will be the action of the DILG here? I’m posing the question again as I learned that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has permitted the operation of cockpits and the resumption of traditional cockfighting under Alert Level 2 but subject to the discretion of the LGUs.

The IATF in fact set specific protocols for cockpit operators to ensure the safety of those who will go to their establishments. They include the following: maximum of 50-percent venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals as well as on-site workers/employees of these establishments must be fully COVID-19 immunized.

Also, the IATF said that there should be cashless betting and use of technology-based platform; and minimum public health standards and technology-based betting shall be strictly enforced by the LGU where traditional cockfighting will be conducted, and monitored by the Department of the Interior and Local Government which has supervision over LGUs and the police force.

However, as I have pointed out, these rules and regulations are next to impossible to be enforced in ‘tupada’ events being held in the middle of the streets, basketball courts and private compounds just like that in Pandacan, Manila.

As I have written previously, what the PNP needs to be successful in its effort to stop all forms of illegal gambling activities including ‘tupada’ all over the country amid the ‘No-Take Policy’ of Gen. Dionards Carlos, is the full cooperation of LGU officials.

It should also be made clear that all government officials and employees are covered by the code of conduct and ethical standards and if all government workers have been banned by President Duterte from going to PAGCOR-run casinos to gamble, they should also be banned from going to ‘sabungans.

Again, all of the DILG promises and warnings would go to naught if it will continue to apply a kid’s glove treatment on LGU officials who are violating simple laws, like operating a ‘tupada’ which could be super-spreader of COVID-19.