The arrest of a policeman for alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade Monday stirred a veritable hornets’ nest at Metro Manila police precincts yesterday over a viral video that tended to purportedly show evidence being planted on the person of the suspect.
As Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Guillermo Eleazar continued to advocate the use of body cameras during police operations, the video of the arrest of P/SSg. Manuel Basiloña Bien in Mandaluyong City elicited harsh remarks from other policemen.
In interviews by Daily Tribune, several ranking and rank-and-file police officers who requested anonymity said they believe one of the undercover arresting officers planted a sachet of suspected shabu on the person of Bien.
“Drug-pushing policemen have no place in our organization, but neither do cops who resort to what appeared here as a clear case of planting evidence in effecting an arrest,” a junior officer told this paper in Filipino.
“Courts and prosecutors routinely dismiss charges because of this bad habit by some cops to short-circuit procedures by taking shortcuts. This deserves a full-blown investigation by our higher-ups,” he added.
“Sablay (failure). Past the two-minute mark, the apparent policeman wearing shorts and white shirt shuffled from between his hands the sachet containing the white substance before putting it at the back pocket or bag of the arrested cop,” observed the Daily Tribune’s policeman-source.
“That (alleged planting of evidence) was not for public consumption and if not for that video surfacing, that would not be known to the people. Likewise, there seemed to be a lot of breaches on police operational procedures,” he added.
Among the claimed irregularities was the suspect being led away from where he was arrested, as seen from the video.
However, documents secured by the paper reported that “the markings and inventory of the recovered evidence was conducted at the place of the arrest of PSSg Bien” and witnessed by barangay, Department of Justice and media representatives.
Bien’s arrest stemmed from the earlier capture of one Alfie Taclian Gomez, 37, a tricycle driver and resident of Mandaluyong for curfew violation leading to the alleged discovery of drugs in his possession.
Gomez reportedly fingered “Sir Bien” as the source of his drugs and that he was supposed to remit the proceeds of his drug transactions to the police officer.
The Mandaluyong City police station drug enforcement unit then arrested Bien as he supposedly received the money from Gomez.
Among the pieces of evidence reported by the arresting officers were one heat-sealed plastic sachet containing suspected shabu, the P5,000 allegedly turned over by Gomez to Bien and the policeman’s loaded Glock 17 pistol.
Eleazar has been pushing the use by policemen of body cameras in their operations for transparency, especially when conducting searches and arrests.
He has been calling on cops to strictly follow police operational procedures to ensure that the rights of the targets of such operations are upheld.
Also yesterday, Eleazar reminded policemen to follow the guidelines and procedures in arresting quarantine and health protocol violators.
“The PNP will immediately hold accountable the police who go too far or abuse the implementation of the guidelines. It is important that our police exercise maximum tolerance and courtesy in visiting quarantine violators, General Eleazar said.
“What we continue to ask the public for is their understanding of our duty to enforce the law. Let’s work together to stop the increase in Covid-19 cases.”