PNP chief scores actor Jake Cuenca over car chase, sorry for stray bullet injury

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
PNP chief scores actor Jake Cuenca over car chase, sorry for stray bullet injury
The Rubicon jeep of Jake Cuenca remains in police custody after he figured in a collision with a patrol car in Mandaluyong on Saturday night.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the Philippine National Police vowed Monday to "implement disciplinary actions and corrective measures" after a Grab driver was hit by a stray bullet after a car chase between police and actor Jake Cuenca. 

In a statement sent to reporters Monday, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar slammed Cuenca for his actions, saying what the actor did was "reckless and only showed lack of discipline and respect to authorities."

The PNP chief also said that he instructed the director of the Eastern Police District, Police Brig. Gen. Matthew Bacay, to place all cops involved under restrictive custody, adding that the PNP would welcome and respect the decision of the Grab driver if he would take legal action.

"I would like to apologize to the Grab driver who was hit by a stray bullet in this incident. I would like to assure you and your family that we will take care of all the medical expenses of your hospitalization and we shall also extend financial assistance that will also cover the period of your recovery," said Eleazar. 

"We assure the public that disciplinary measures will be imposed on the personnel involved and corrective measures will be implemented in order to prevent the repeat of this incident," the PNP chief said. 

What happened?

Citing initial reports, Eleazar said that personnel of the Station Drug Enforcement Unit of the Mandaluyong City Police were about to leave an area in Barangay Barangka in the city after conducting an ant-illegal drug operation when their car was hit by Cuenca's vehicle.

Instead of getting out of the vehicle to acknowledge the officers, Cuenca sped off, which resulted in a car chase. The vehicle also rammed a barrier in the area, Eleazar said. 

During the incident, the operatives shot the tires of Cuenca’s Jeep in a bid to force the vehicle to stop. 

In the commotion, Eleazar said that a Grab driver was hit by a stray bullet. He was taken to the nearest hospital and is now recuperating. 

Not the first time

Earlier in September, 31-year-old Jayson Capistrano, a food delivery rider, found himself on the receiving end of a bullet suddenly fired by Police Cpl. Oliver Ferrer near the Manila Police District Station 1. 

"While they were waiting outside the barangay hall, Ferrer allegedly toyed with his firearm in front of victim Jason Capistrano. It went off and hit Capistrano," Eleazar's statement read.

The initial spot report by the MPD also said that "Ferrer jokingly drew his firearm as stated by the witness...and allegedly it accidentally went off hitting the victim."

Capistrano was rushed to the Chinese General Hospital but was declared dead on arrival. 

In the aftermath of the shooting, Eleazar ordered all police personnel to undergo regular gun safety and marksmanship training, especially those assigned in the field.

The PNP chief in a statement after the incident said that "the standard on gun safety and shooting skills must be high for police personnel."

"As policemen, owning and carrying a gun is part of the trust given by our countrymen to use it for protection and not to persecute them," he added.

READ: Homicide rap for cop who 'jokingly' drew gun, actually killed pal

PNP shifts blame to actor

Short of acknowledging the unnecessary firing of guns, the PNP chief in his statement pointed back to the actor's actions, saying Cuenca caused the incident.

“I understand the negative sentiments of our kababayan on this issue but let us not forget why this incident happened in the first place: There is a motorist who, instead of apologizing and taking responsibility for his mistake, turned the scene into a teleserye and movie scene,” said Eleazar. 

According to the PNP Handbook on Human Rights-based Policing, "lethal force should not be used except when strictly unavoidable in order to protect [an officer's] life or the lives of others." The PNP's Use of Force Doctrine emphasizes the "use of lethal force only as a last resort" and "proper arrest procedures with emphasis on non-lethal tactics."

The PNP Revised Operational Procedures adds that when a police checkpoint is ignored, not even warning shots are permitted "due to the confusion it may create for the driver and passengers of the vehicle."

Instead, "megaphones or police sirens shall be used instead during the pursuit. The plate number of the vehicle shall be noted and given to other units in adjacent areas."

Rule 11.8(a) of the operational procedures, which tackles stopping vehicles in hostile situations, says "overreactions or aggression on the part of the police should be avoided."

"When the vehicle of the suspect is cornered or stopped, instruct the driver and other occupants in a clear and commanding voice to follow specifically what you will require of them. Failure on their part to follow will be construed as a hostile act on their part. Execute instructions on the use of reasonable force," Rule 11.8(b) on fleeing vehicles reads

"Being an actor and a public figure, he must set a good example for people who idolize him by owning up to his mistake and facing its consequences," Eleazar said addressing the actor.

"For what you have done, I will make sure that you are held accountable for your insult not only to the police but also to the law, and for your lack of self-discipline."

— with a report from The STAR/Neil Jayson Servallos

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