Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Matthew Rey­sio-Cruz @MatthewINQ —WITH A RE­PORT FROM MELVIN GAS­CON Police brutality · Crime · Sexual Abuse · Incidents · Violence and Abuse · Society · Makati · Tonga · National Human Rights Commission (Mexico) · Philippine National Police · Belarus · Austria · Metro Manila · Belgium · Oscar Albayalde · Iceland

Four Makati City po­lice of­fi­cers who were caught on video laugh­ing as they forced a woman to strip and bend down­were re­lieved of their posts to face ad­min­is­tra­tive charges, as the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) con­demned their ac­tions and the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice chief de­nounced their “de­viant be­hav­ior.”

The now vi­ral cell phone video was re­port­edly taken in March 2017 and was given by a for­mer an­tidrug op­er­a­tive to ABS-CBN, which aired it on Wed­nes­day. The Makati po­lice con­firmed that the record­ing took place at the of­fice of their Sta­tion Drug En­force­ment Unit (SDEU), and that it showed four of their per­son­nel, namely Po­lice Of­fi­cers 1 Stephanie Limhap, Heizelle Mara­mag, Fran­cis In­tia, and the SDEU head, Se­nior Insp. Val­mark Funelas.

Ac­cord­ing to Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, di­rec­tor of Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Po­lice Of­fice (NCRPO), the of­fi­cers ad­mit­ted that they strip-searched the woman but claimed she had been paid to par­tic­i­pate in a “demon­stra­tion” on how to look for con­cealed drugs.

Agree­ment vi­o­lated

The woman, whom Eleazar said was a “guest re­la­tions of­fi­cer” from a lo­cal nightspot, ap­peared at a press con­fer­ence on Thurs­day and said she was in­deed paid P2,000 to play the role of an ar­rested drug courier.

But she said the of­fi­cers vi­o­lated their agree­ment when they se­cretly video-recorded the sup­posed demo. “They’re just too much; what they did to me was un­fair. They ru­ined my life,” said the woman, who cov­ered her face dur­ing the brief­ing.

“Her pri­vacy was vi­o­lated. That’s what made her fu­ri­ous,” Se­nior Supt. Ro­ge­lio Si­mon, Makati po­lice chief, told the In­quirer later in an in­ter­view. “The deal was that she would be strip-searched but no videos, no cell phones would be in­volved.”

The woman had ex­pressed an in­ten­tion to file crim­i­nal charges against the stil­lu­niden­ti­fied of­fi­cer who took the video, Si­mon added.

Si­mon said the demo was done for a batch of fe­male op­er­a­tives who were then newly as­signed to the SDEU, and that the woman who ap­peared in the video was ap­proached by the po­lice for the job be­cause she was a friend of one of the SDEU’s as­sets.

Ac­cord­ing to Eleazar, how­ever, even if the woman had con­sented to be stripped naked and searched, there were still “sev­eral vi­o­la­tions of our stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures.”

Men in the room

These in­cluded the pres­ence of men in the room as she un­dressed, Eleazar said in an in­ter­view. And even if it was not an ac­tual po­lice op­er­a­tion, there should be no record­ing, the NCRPO chief said in an in­ter­view.

The four re­lieved of­fi­cers would be fac­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive charges to be de­ter­mined in a precharge in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Eleazar added.

Si­mon re­called that Funelas, the SDEU chief, was re­lieved of his post last year but later re­in­stated as the unit’s of­fi­cer in charge af­ter his re­place­ment went on aca­demic leave.

Mean­while, Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Os­car Al­bay­alde said the “full force of the law” would be ap­plied on the mat­ter. “Let me state this clearly: We strongly con­demn this kind of de­viant be­hav­ior in our ranks.”

CHR alarmed

Ear­lier on Thurs­day, CHR Com­mis­sioner Gwendolyn Pi­mentel-Gana is­sued a state­ment ex­press­ing alarm over the video. The state­ment, how­ever, was still based on ini­tial me­dia re­ports de­scrib­ing the woman in the clip as a real “drug sus­pect.”

“It is alarm­ing that, even af­ter we have passed a law against tor­ture, in­ci­dents such as this con­tin­ues to hap­pen in closed quar­ters, es­pe­cially that po­lice of­fi­cers are in­volved,” Gana said. “We urge the PNP to open a tran­sparent in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the case, where per­pe­tra­tors will be ac­count­able be­yond mere sus­pen­sion from their duty for pos­si­bly vi­o­lat­ing Repub­lic Act 9745, Sec­tion 4, on acts of tor­ture.”

 ??  ?? THEY CAN’T LAUGHNOW The now vi­ral video of this scene is spell­ing trou­ble for some mem­bers of the Makati po­lice an­tidrug unit, more than a year af­ter it was taken.
THEY CAN’T LAUGHNOW The now vi­ral video of this scene is spell­ing trou­ble for some mem­bers of the Makati po­lice an­tidrug unit, more than a year af­ter it was taken.

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