MANILA - Fourteen police officers from the Eastern Police District (EPD) accused of illegally arresting seven Koreans and extorting P2.7 million from them last month denied the charges yesterday, saying they are ''victims of trial by publicity.''
Chief Inspector Florello Jose Carpio, spokesman for the group, said they would cooperate in the investigation of the incident.
“The charges against us are not true. We will clear our names in the proper forum,” Carpio said. “We are in the process of gathering evidence to prove our innocence.”
He said they declined to submit counter-affidavits on the case as requested by the EPD investigating body as “no formal complaint has been filed against us.”
Carpio said they will hire the services of a lawyer to represent them in court once the charges are filed against them.
The 14 policemen were earlier relieved from their posts to prevent them from influencing the investigation of the case, said Senior Superintendent Alfred Corpus, head of the EPD directorial staff.
They were transferred to the EPD’s District Police Holding and Administrative Service pending result of the probe.
Those relieved along with Carpio were Inspector Manny Jamero and PO1 Ryan Urbanes of the District Intelligence Division; Chief Inspector Virgilio Buenaobra Jr.; PO3 Andrie Cawa; PO2 Romeo Siaotong; PO2 Mangontavar Amerol; SPO2 Melchor de Mayo; PO3 Dennis Ordame; PO1 Johnvir Tagacay; SPO1 Herbert Garcia; SPO1 Nelson Zenarosa; PO3 Adrian Magbalot, and PO2 Jayson Rivera of the District Special Operation Unit.
Corpus vowed that there would be no whitewash in their investigation.
EPD investigators are gathering evidence prior to the filing of appropriate charges against the suspects.
The 14 policemen arrested Lee Chang Hwan and six other Koreans during a raid on their condominium units at the Bauhina Tower, Tivoli Garden Residences on Coronado street, Barangay Hulo, Mandaluyong City on March 13.
Lee alleged that the others were released after paying P2.7 million. He said he was detained and charged because he was not able to pay P500,000.
Corpus said they could only file administrative cases against the policemen at this time due to the lack of a formal complaint from Lee and his companions.