CA upholds Napolcom ruling suspending 6 PNP officials for 6 months for illegal arrest

October 4, 2011 9:34 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 4 — The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld a National Police Commission (Napolcom) ruling suspending for six months police Supt. Franklin Moises Mabanag and five others of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) in connection with their handling of the arrest of the relatives of the late Trinidad Arteche Etong in April 2009.

Trinidad was the wife of broadcaster Ted Failon.

In a 13-page ruling promulgated on Sept. 30, 2011, the CA's Special Seventeenth Division ruled that the Napolcom did not err in finding Mabanag along with Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) deputy chief Supt. Gerardo Ratuita, Chief Insp. Cherry Lou Donato, Chief Insp. Enrico Figueroa, Sr. Insp. Roberto Razon, Sr. and Insp. Erlinda Garcia culpable for grave misconduct.

The CA decision penned by Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao denied the petition for certiorari filed by Mabanag et al.

"The conclusion of the Napolcom was substantiated by positive and compelling evidence. There is no reason for us to digress therefrom," the CA decision said.

Concurring with the decision were Associate Justices Jane Aurora Lantion and Danton Bueser.

Chaired by former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno, the Napolcom ordered the relief of Mabanag as chief of the CIDU.

However, Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, SPO2 Jerry Abada and PO2 Joycelyn Marcelo were cleared of the charges for insufficiency of evidence.

Mabanag and the other respondents were charged with administrative case arising from the complaint of the Inspection Monitoring and Investigation Service (IMIS) of the Napolcom stemming from the arrest of the sister-in-law and house helpers of Failon, whose wife, Tina Arteche-Etong, was found with a gunshot wound in her head on April 15, 2009.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), where the Napolcom had transferred the investigation of the case, concluded that Arteche-Etong had committed suicide.

Citing for "obstruction of justice" as their violation, Mabanag and other CIDU officers arrested Pamela Arteche-Trinchera, Failon's sister-in-law, and four helpers of the Failon household.

Mabanag alleged that Arteche-Trinchera and the four helpers —Carlota Morbos, Wilfreda Bollicer, Pacifico Apacible and Glen Polan — committed the crime for allegedly giving contradictory statements to police investigators; failing to report the shooting and cleaning or altering material evidence.

The respondents alleged that Arteche-Trinchera and the four helpers were arrested without warrants supposedly because they were committing the continuing offense of obstruction of justice at the time of the arrests.

However, the Napolcom noted that Mabanag and the five other police officers violated not only existing Police Operational Procedures on carrying out valid arrests, but also the Rules of Court.

According to the Napolcom, the claim of Mabanag that the warrantless arrests were made because the crime being committed was a continuing offense cannot be justified, considering that the alleged crime of obstruction of justice took place on April 15, 2009, the day of the crime while the arrests were done the day after, at the New Era General Hospital where the late Arteche-Etong was rushed for treatment.

In its decision, the CA said that the Napolcom was right when it ruled that Mabanag and his men failed to substantiate their claim that those arrested were properly read their rights as required under the Miranda Doctrine.

"We consider the police as guardians of the people tasked with the solemn duty of protecting our rights. It is disheartening, if not, alarming, to hear of members of the PNP (Philippine National Police) who oppress and trample upon the people's revered rights. Along this vein, we resonate the edifying enunciation of the Napolcom," the CA ruling said. (PNA)

RMA/PTR/mec

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