By Aaron Recuenco
Two rookie policemen assigned at the Quezon City Police District were charged with a case of rape for allegedly forcing a woman whom they earlier arrested for illegal gambling to perform sexual acts in exchange for the dropping of charges against her.
Director Guillermo Eleazar, head of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said he also ordered a manhunt against one of the two erring cops, Police Officer 1 Severiano Montalban III who went into hiding after the victim lodged a complaint on Monday.
“I am displeased of this behavior of these two policemen. This is not tolerated in the police organization,” said Eleazar.
Montalban, along with fellow rookie cop PO1 Jayson Portuguez, was accused of rape by one of the six women they arrested allegedly for illegal gambling in Quezon City last week.
Eleazar said the investigation they conducted revealed that the victim visited her live-in partner at the Novaliches Police Station on November 2 who was earlier arrested for violation of illegal gambling.
After the visit, the victim went to her female friends and a few hours after her arrival, a group of cops arrived and arrested them also for illegal gambling.
During the mandatory medical examination on all the six female arrested at the Quezon City General Hospital, the victim allegedly pleaded with Montalban to spare her since her live-in partner was still in the police detention cell.
Montalban reportedly agreed in exchange for sexual favor. The victim reportedly agreed and it happened right inside a police car parked at the dimly-lit portion of the hospital.
After the sexual intercourse, Montalban allegedly told the victim to do the same for his buddy, PO1 Portuguez, who in turn, asked her to do another sexual favor instead.
The victim was later freed while her five other female companions were taken to the police station. The victim filed the complaint on Monday.
The incident involving the two cops came while the Philippine National Police (PNP) is still reeling from a scandal brought by another policeman, Police Officer 1 Eduardo Valencia, who allegedly forced a 15-year old girl from Manila to have sex with him in exchange for the release of her parents who were arrested for illegal drugs.
During a confrontation initiated by Eleazar, PO1 Valencia was quoted saying that it was normal in drug operations—which was interpreted later in the social media to mean that sex-for-freedom of drug suspects is normal.
The PNP leadership later clarified that what the rookie cop meant was that it is normal for policemen to be accused of anything by the drug suspects and their relatives as a form of harassment.
The case involving the two rookie Quezon City policemen, however, aggravated the allegation of palit-puri, or the alleged sex-for-freedom modus.
“The timing of this incident comes at the worst time. As police critics are still hitting the organization for the recent rape incident involving another policeman whom we arrested, this one now comes as if to confirm what some critics are saying,” said Eleazar.
Several days ago, the PNP Academy was also rocked by another scandal after three of its cadets were accused of forcing two plebes of the PNPA to perform oral sex on each other. One of those accused is reportedly a son of a police general.
The PNPA is one of the main sources of officers of the national police force.
AGAIN AND AGAIN
The PNP leadership has been noticing the trend over the years that most of the policemen involved in wrongdoings are rookie ones, or those with the rank of Police Officers 1 who have just been recruited in the police service.
It was recalled that some of those accused and charged in connection with the death of three minors in Caloocan City last year in the conduct of drug war are also rookie cops.
The spate of abuses committed by PO1s, according to Eleazar, bothers not only him but also the PNP leadership.
“We must be able to screen our applicants well. We have instituted reforms in our recruiting process as well to try to ensure the quality of our new policemen,” said Eleazar.
This promoted national police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to issue an order mandating all police recruits to undergo six-month commando training in order to instill discipline among the rookie cops.
But Albayalde said the best way to institutionalize discipline for incoming policemen is to turn over the conduct of training to the PNP from the Philippine Public Safety College.
The PNP leadership has been lobbying for the turnover of the supervision of the PNPA and other training programs to the PNP from the PPSC which has currently has supervision and control on the training program of rookie cops.
IN THE MEANTIME…
But while waiting for these reforms, Eleazar said that all they could do is to encourage any victim to surface, expose the wrongdoings and pursue the cases they want against abusive cops.
“I encourage more victims of police abuse to come forward so we can really send the message to our policemen that reform is at hand. The PNP is determined to rid our ranks of undeserving policemen,” said Eleazar.
“At least, now, the complainants are coming out. At least now, victims know that the police institution is on their side and shall not tolerate these police abuses. I ask more victims to come to us with their complaints. And I assure the public that we will put these police scalawags in jail,” he added.