Jailed for returning lost phone

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014


HERE's the story of a taxi driver who turned over to the GMA 7 station a high-end cellular phone left by his passenger in the taxicab but who instead ended up in jail.

This is the account of my colleague as I was out of the station when the incident happened.

Ariel Birao, a driver of Donny taxi, went to the GMA 7 station at Nivel Hills, Apas last Monday to turn over an iPhone unit left by his passenger, Nayef Mohammad, an Arab national, last Friday. Mohammad rode the taxicab from Ayala to Mandaue City.

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Upon learning that his cellular phone was left in the cab, Mohammad had the incident blottered at the Basak police station in Mandaue City.

Birao claimed he found the cell phone inside his vehicle a few hours after his passenger disembarked. He said he was not able to immediately turn over the unit because he left for his hometown in Toledo City the following day.

Using his other cell phone, Mohammad texted the driver through his lost unit several times, appealing for him to return it. But the driver said he was not able to answer because he does not know how to operate an iPhone. His cell phone is MyPhone. PO2 Brent Fulmaran of the Basak Police station, who received the complaint, also texted the driver.

Upon the prodding of the policeman, the foreigner offered Birao cash reward if he returned the phone. But the driver did not answer.

Monday afternoon upon his return from Toledo, Birao went to the GMA 7 broadcast complex to turn over the phone. The newsroom personnel contacted the Arab national using his other unit informing him that his lost iPhone had already been turned over to the station by the taxi driver.

Mohammad, who does not know how to speak English, immediately went to the station with Fulmaran and an interpreter.

Fulmaran did not introduce himself as a policeman to the station security guards when
he entered the station compound. He was in civilian clothes, his service pistol tucked in his short pants even if a gun ban has been imposed in Metro Cebu because of the Sinulog festival. He even misled the security guards by claiming he was a friend of GMA 7 reporter Chona Carreon.

Seeing Birao inside the TV newsroom, Fulmaran handcuffed the driver, who was shocked by the move. The phone was with the station personnel when the Arab national and the policemen arrived.

Why did Fulmaran do that to the poor taxi driver? If the driver had the intention of keeping the phone, he should not have turned it over to the GMA 7 station. He also did not demand for the cash reward.

It was the station personnel who asked Birao to wait for the owner so there will be a proper turn over and so he can claim the cash reward Mohammad offered. The owner was not interested in pressing charges against the taxi driver but Fulmaran said he would act as the complainant.

Puwede ba na? Fulmaran brought Birao to the police station and locked him in jail. As
of this writing, the poor taxi driver is still in the detention cell.

Why was Fulmaran interested in the recovery of the iPhone unit? Was he also promised a reward?

I am calling the attention of police officials in Mandaue City or maybe of the regional office to look into this case for possible violation of human rights and abuse of authority committed by this policeman.

Imbestigaha kuno ninyo ni kay tan-aw nako morag naa ni lapses. Kun mao ning klasiha sa pulis ang magdaghan, mas modaghan sad ang mga magrebelde.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 15, 2014.

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