Narco suspects cry foul over alleged police abuses

Michael Joe Delizo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2023 07:40 PM

MANILA – Narcotics suspects on Wednesday cried foul over supposed abuses of police who arrested them in anti-illegal drug operations in Antipolo City.

The House Committee on Public Order and Safety presented at least two drug suspects who claimed that they were illegally arrested and beaten up by police in separate operations in 2022.

“Every time po na nagmamakaawa ako sa kanila, sinusuntok po nila ako sa ulo nang sinusuntok tapos sinasabunutan. Naririnig po ng anak ko na minumura ako na, ‘P.I. ka,’ ganyan; na, ‘Magturo ka na, ituro mo na sino ‘yung amo mo para matapos tayo.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sir, parang awa niyo na po, wala po akong ituturo kasi wala po akong alam,’” drug suspect Maria Victoria Perito said of a police interrogation inside a vehicle along with her 8-year-old son.

Mother and son were held by police on October 13, 2022 along M. Santos Street, Barangay San Jose after the latter handed an envelope containing illegal drugs to a poseur buyer at about 6:30 in the evening, according to Perito.

She said she was only asked by a friend to deliver the package without any knowledge of what it contained.

“Bigla na po kaming pumunta sa isang lugar na madilim, malapit na po ‘yun sa may Ynares eh, Grand Heights po. Sobrang dilim po doon. Pagdating po namin doon, mga ilang oras din po kaming naghintay kasi sabi po kasi nila is hintayin po namin ‘yung kagawad at saka po ‘yung media,” Perito said.

“Pinaupo nila ako doon sa gilid na may nakalatag na tarpaulin tapos nilatagan ng ebidensya.”

Police Captain Juan Carlo Porciuncula, who led the arresting team, denied the narrative of Perito, noting that the arrest was conducted somewhere in Deogracias area at about 10 in the evening.

“In our experience, it is very common po na ‘yung aming mga naaresto sa illegal drugs ay they have their own versions of defenses,” said Porciuncula.

However, Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop was able to present a CCTV footage at M. Santos Street showing that the arrest happened in the area at 6:32 p.m., as stated by Perito.

“If you have officers like these telling a lie to his teeth in this committee, I am compelled to cite him for contempt and perhaps detain him here. Sinungaling eh,” Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said.

Another suspect, Christian Jonel Babagay, also claimed he was illegally arrested on November 2, 2022.

He, along with his friend Carl Joshua Marbella, was also held inside a vehicle for several hours for interrogation and was presented to media and barangay kagawad with supposed planted evidence.

“Inikot na po kami sa buong Antipolo… pagkatapos po noon, nilatagan na po ako ng marijuana na isang kilo tapos pilit nilang nilalagay sa bulsa ko ‘yung marked money na isang libo. Pagkabasa po sa akin, dumating na lang po ‘yung isang kagawad saka ‘yung media,” Babagay told the committee through video conferencing. 

Babagay’s mother Irene, who was physically present during the hearing, insisted her son was never involved in drugs.

“Sinira niyo ang buhay ng anak ko,” Irene told police.

“Ie-explain po niya (Jonel) kung paano siya sinaktan sa loob ng sasakyan, kung paano umiiyak araw-araw ‘yung anak ko kung bakit siya nandoon sa loob ng kulungan na wala siyang kasalanan,” she added.

Acop believes the police committed abduction and illegal arrest.

He already filed administrative complaints against Porciuncula and four other police officers involved in the operations.

“It’s a warrantless arrest. Supposed to be a crime is being committed para wala kang warrant of arrest. Dito, ang nakikita ko, in-abduct mo na ‘yung mga hinuli bago prinisensenta na may dala-dala o may bumibili ng drugs. If you have noticed, hinuhuli sila ng mas maaga, pero ‘yung presentation ng buy-bust, ng ebidensya ay madilim na,” Acop said.

The lawmakers are seeking to amend the operational procedures manual of police in conducting anti-drug operations to prevent the same incidents from happening again.

“Sa tingin ko, may problema kayo diyan sa procedural; it is not entrapment, but it is instigation,” said Davao de Oro Rep. Rowel Peter Gonzaga.