TWO of the country's biggest anti-crime groups issued a joint statement today expressing their concern about an upsurge of crimes involving rogue policemen.
The Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order and the Citizens Action Against Crime listed three kidnapping incidents, two murders, and an undetermined number of car thefts in the past month in which, they said, policemen and police offers were the prime suspects.
Last July, anti-crime groups had already expressed their alarm at the rising number of kidnapping incidents, which they said was partly the consequence of the police's preoccupation with monitoring anti-government protests.
Today the anti-crime groups said that "their worst nightmare," that of policemen themselves taking part in crimes, had come true. They were particularly upset about three abductions and one attempted abduction that took place in Metro Manila since September.
A one-year-old girl was accidentally killed on September 14 in an attempted abduction in Cainta, the groups' statement said. The following day, a Hong Kong national was kidnapped and subsequently killed by the policemen who were allegedly his abductors.
The anti-crime groups credited the Philippine National Police (PNP) for solving the crimes, even if those among their ranks were involved in them. But they also asked the PNP to act swiftly on similar cases involving rogue policemen.
The full statement:
Our worst nightmares have once again come true. In the past month, rogue policemen were involved in three kidnappings, two murders, and an undetermined number of car thefts. It seems we must again be wary of the men who are supposed to protect us.
We recognize that these policemen do not represent the entire police force. They are among the few rotten eggs and we are heartened by the fact that police authorities have not tolerated these hoodlums in their ranks. But we cannot help but be alarmed by the brazenness and utter regard for life and decency shown in these recent incidents:
- On Aug. 31, 2005, the 11-year-old twins, Jin Ritz and Kelvyelt Sermonia, and their 9-year-old sister, Vinz, were kidnapped on their way to school. The children, who were later rescued, recounted how the kidnapers tied them up in a stinking bathroom, fed them only crackers, beat them up and harassed them.
The suspected perpetrators of that abduction were PO1 Antonio Castillo, assigned to the PNP Aviation Security Group, and PO1 Jose Lonmar Zapatos, who is assigned to the PNP Special Action Force. They were arrested by elements of the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response (PACER) team and are now in custody.
- On Sept. 1, 2005, businessman Henry Sia was abducted, detained and robbed. In addition, money was extorted from him. The main suspects in his case are two policemen and a police officer. The two policemen are PO2 Clifford de Guzman assigned at the NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) and his brother PO2 Jeffrey de Guzman of the Western Police District (WPD). According to the WPD's Chief Supt. Pedro Bulaong, Insp. Marijon Perez, who is assigned at the PNP-Camp Vicente Lim, is also suspected of involvement in the abduction.
In August, the same group of policemen was also tagged in the abduction of John Chua.
- On Sept 14, 2005, Rosanna Guevarra was driving along the main road in Cainta, Rizal with her 1-year-old daughter, Erica Charlene, when her car was blocked by motorcycle-riding men. When Rosanna refused to stop, the armed men opened fire at the car, hitting and killing the 1-year-old Erica.
The suspected perpetrators: PO1 Candido Vallejo, P01 Roel Palana and the alleged leader, PO2 Joel Tapec, all from the district mobile group of the Eastern Police District. At the time of the killing, Tapec was out on bail for the robbery of Fernando Siy's candy factory in Pasig City last Aug. 26. Suspects Vallejo and Palana were arrested on Sept. 28, while Tapec remains at large.
- On Sept. 15, the day after the girl's killing, Vallejo and Palana were again involved in the abduction of Michael Chan, 33, a Hong Kong national. The abductors asked for a P5-million ransom. They killed Chan on Sept. 17 when his family could not afford to raise the ransom demanded. Rizal police officers said that when arrested, Vallejo's mobile phone yielded text messages on the ransom negotiation, so they contacted PACER and learned about the kidnapping. The suspects later admitted to the murder and pointed where they dumped Chan's body.
Chan left a 1-year-old baby and is now lying at the Funeraria Paz on Araneta Ave., Quezon City.
Two innocent victims were killed in the span of just five days. There were two armed robberies in just two weeks. Policemen were responsible for all of them. What do these say about our police force?
We have also been informed that many incidents of carjacking and hijacking in Quezon City in recent months were supposedly perpetrated by rogue policemen. The problem is that few of the victims dared to report the incidents. As a consequence, the crimes multiplied because the victims, through their silence, allowed the perpetrators to go unpunished.
Fortunately, in the end, decent police officers showed determination in getting the criminals, even if these were their fellow policemen. We condemn the dastardly acts of rogue policemen who have betrayed their duty to protect citizens and instead prey on those whom they are sworn to keep safe from harm. We commend the police force for their swift action in arresting the hoodlums in their ranks. We exhort them to exert even greater effort to arrest policemen who are still at large for the crimes they had committed. We urge them to conduct a prompt and honest-to-goodness cleansing of their ranks. The government must also act fast in supporting the transformation and professionalization of our police force and backing it with the logistics and resources it needs to put a stop to this scourge.
OFFICERS AND MEMBERS
Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order and the
Citizens Action Against Crime