BEATEN black and blue, the soldiers involved in a mugging incident are ready to press charges against some members of Manolo Fortich police station in Bukidnon.
An official of the army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) said recently that they’re now questioning the arrest procedure made by the policemen inside a bus in Manolo Fortich town.
Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, 4ID spokesperson, said the division is backing Private First Class (PFC) Brian Anco and PFC Armand Gentiles, who are now at Camp Evangelista in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City, to explain and give their statements.
The military questions the arrest procedure employed by the police and why the law enforcers have also allowed at least one civilian to physically assault the soldiers.
The warring soldiers and policemen have earlier settled and agreed to desist from filing cases after the incident last September 19.
“That time wala pa sa saktong pag-iisip ang mga sundalo kasi nakainom tapos papipirmahin mo and andyan pa sa paligid yung mga taong nangbugbog,” Martinez said.
“Sa part nila magpa-file talaga sila ng case. Pinag-aaralan pa kung what specific case. We will support them di natin pababayaan ang ating mga sundalo,” Martinez added.
Anco and Gentiles appeared on a video both beaten and dragged off a bus by policemen later identified as Police Officer 2 (PO2) Mark Torregosa and PO1 Laurence Macalos.
The video footage from a dashcam of the bus got the attention of "netizens" in the social media.
Police said Torregosa and Macalos have responded to the bus driver’s request for assistance after the soldiers allegedly disturbed other passengers inside the bus.
Police claimed the soldiers turned unruly and arrogant when they arrived. They also insist it was a civilian who struck first the soldier on the face.
Martinez, after watching the full video of the incident, said the soldiers were not misbehaving nor caused some troubles inside the bus.
Martinez narrated that the soldiers, who confessed being drunk, were expressing their frustrations to the bus driver after several busses ignored and just passed them by at the bus stop area.
He said the soldiers did not block the highway but only placed a reflectorized signage so they can be seen from a distance.
“Siguro na-misinterpret ng driver yung dalawang nagpahungaw sa ilang frustration dahil matagal sila naghintay ng bus di sila hinihintuan sa bus stop. Medyo madilim ang area kaya sila naglagay ng reflectorized na signage. Timing may bumaba kaya sila nakasakay,” Martinez said.
“Dili man sila nga lasing nga nagyawyaw lang sa wala. Nakita sa video na umupo lang din sila sa likod na tahimik. Wala akong nakita na nag-amok sila o namerwisyo og pasahero,” Martinez said.
Martinez said the soldiers were surprised when the bus stopped and two policemen accosted them along along with some civilians.
He said Anco and Gentiles did not identify themselves as soldiers because they were security conscious and also confused of the sudden turn of events.
“Sinasabi kasi natin sa mga sundalo na wag magpapakilalang sundalo pag may checkpoint kasi nangyari nang may mga rebeldeng nagsusuot ng uniporme ng police at military,” Martinez said.
“Nagtataka ang ating mga sundalo dahil nga may naka-unipormeng police at may naka-civilian,” he added.
Martinez added the police should have introduced themselves and explained the nature of the arrest as part of the protocol, which he said was never established.
He said the soldiers were immediately ordered by the police to get off the bus.
“If they are indeed aarestuhin bakit ang order ng police ‘naog mo’. Confused ang ating sundalo kung aarestuhin ba sila o inorder na pababain. Parang NPA style yung pababain eh tapos kinaladkad pang parang hayop at kriminal,” Martinez said.
The 4ID spokesman said that sending policemen to respond to an incident in civilian attire is a violation.
Martinez also stressed that the police must have not allowed civilians to violently meddle during an arrest procedure.
“Bakit hinayaan ng PNP na may manuntok na civilian sa harap nila obstruction to justice yan. Parang sinampal din sila ng kahihiyan na parang ang message ay inefficient sila at di nila kayang gampanan ang kanilang authority,” Martinez said.
“Basi sa statement ng ating mga sundalo maraming police sa labas bakit di nila kayang hulihin yung nanuntok,” he added.
Martinez said the incident may not happen had the responding policemen carried out the right procedure.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 25, 2017.