4 Manila dads sue city’s police chief, 21 others
Jose Rodel Clapano, Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) - February 10, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Four Manila councilors running for re-election under former President Joseph Estrada’s ticket filed charges Friday against Manila Police District director Chief Superintendent Alejandro Gutierrez, another MPD official and 20 other police officers over an allegedly violent confrontation in Paco on Feb. 6.

Councilors Raymundo Yupangco, Richard Ibay, Cristina Isip, and Rafael Borromeo accused Gutierrez, MPD Station 5 commander Senior Superintendent Ferdinand Quirante and 20 other police officers of reportedly disrupting a raffle organized by the councilors for the benefit of residents of Barangay 683 Zone 74 and illegally confiscating a tambiolo, a rotating container filled with numbered balls or tickets.

They charged the police officers with robbery with violence; intimidation of persons; grave coercion; prohibition, interruption and dissolution of peaceful meetings and physical injury before the Office of the Ombudsman.

They also filed with the National Police Commission (Napolcom) charges of grave misconduct and abuse of authority, in violation of the Philippine National Police operational procedures manual.

They said they included Gutierrez since he has command responsibility.

The councilors also asked Napolcom to suspend Gutierrez, Quirante and the 20 policemen.

The complaints were filed Friday afternoon but released to the press only yesterday.

Borromeo said Quirante told the organizers of the event that Gutierrez ordered the policemen to disperse them, but did not specify the reasons for the order.

The complainants said Isip and Borromeo were injured when Quirante and his men forcibly took the tambiolo. They noted that some of the police officers were not in uniform when they dispersed the gathering.

The councilors attached Isip and Borromeo’s medico-legal certificates and a video of the incident to their complaints.

Emergency meeting

The councilors decided to file charges following an emergency meeting at Estrada’s house in Manila Friday. During the meeting, Estrada said he will provide lawyers and videographers in the next public consultations that will be held by the councilors.

“We will not stop the bingo (games). Inform me three days before the event so that I can assign lawyers and videographers,” he said.

Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, Estrada’s running mate, said he accompanied the councilors when they filed their complaints. He said he was able to talk to Interior and Local Government Secretary and concurrent Napolcom chairman Manuel Roxas II.

“He told me to file a case in Napolcom and… asked us to stop our activities (until today),” Moreno said. “As a show of good faith, we will abide.”

He said he told Roxas that their public consultations have been going on for three weeks “and we are experiencing harassment. We will start again (tomorrow).”

MPD to file more charges

In an interview with The STAR, Quirante said Isip’s group reportedly started the trouble after they refused to follow the orders of Inspector Robert Bunayog, whom he sent to check on complaints by residents that the event generated so much noise and snarled vehicular traffic in the area.

Bunayog had told the organizers to disperse, Quirante said. He added that he personally went to the area to tell the councilors to leave after they were not able to show a government permit for the activity.

“I believe the councilors are also administratively liable for not following the city ordinance that they themselves created,” Quirante said, referring to a local law requiring permits before public assemblies can be held.

Quirante has filed charges of violating Batas Pambansa 880 (the law on peaceful assembly) and Ordinance 4708 (which penalizes noise pollution) as well as obstructing the free flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic against the councilors.

He said they will also charge the councilors with disobeying a lawful police order, resisting arrest and assault upon an agent of authority.

Quirante said one of the councilors even challenged the policemen to a fistfight, but his men ignored the challenge.

“We are just doing our job and I don’t know why they have to drag DD (district director) into this mess. (Gutierrez) did not issue any order during that time,” he said.

Gutierrez was not available for comment as of press time.  – With Sandy Araneta

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