Facing serious allegations now are Chief Master Sgt. Eric Edgar Emia; Staff Sgts. Celso Colita, Joseph Alcoseba and Michael Rey Cabizares; and Corporals Rochelito Mabuhat, Emmanuel Martinez, Carlo Irizari, Junel Pedroza, John Carl Aceron and Georny Abrasado. All these men were part of the Drug Enforcement Unit of Sawang Calero Police Station in Cebu City. It serves the organization and the public well that erring men in uniform must be mentioned most publicly.
The Integrity Monitoring and Enhancement Group (IMEG) Visayas Field Unit, a police group tasked to monitor erring cops, heard the story of a woman’s three-day ordeal in the hands of the station’s DEU. The IMEG’s investigation, led by Maj. Alejandro Batobalonos, retraced the woman’s tale and found considerable facts that attest to the story’s veracity.
The team is now at the holding unit of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 headquarters while under internal investigation, which we hope the Philippine National Police will uphold with utmost transparency and integrity, most especially in a time of intense organizational cleansing.
The woman was arrested in her house at 9 p.m. of March 9, 2021 on the strength of a search warrant based on an information that the suspect was involved in illegal drugs and possession of unlicenced firearm.
On March 10, she was reportedly placed in a room in the Sawang Calero Police Station, but the arrest wasn’t logged in the police blotter. At 1 p.m., some team members allegedly brought her to a bank’s automated teller machine and allegedly forced her to withdraw P170,000 from her bank account. At 2:45 p.m., she was brought to a motel in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City, where the officer Colita allegedly raped her. She was later brought back to the station at 5 p.m.
The team released her at 5 p.m. of March 11 after Colita instructed his men to take her back to her house in Tungkil, Minglanilla. She was dropped off at the subdivision’s guard house.
Complaints of grave coercion, grave threats and robbery were filed against the 10 police officers. PRO 7 Director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo said Colita now faces two counts of rape.
Sawang Calero Police Station Chief Maj. Eduard Sanchez, meanwhile, was relieved for failing to supervise his men, said Cebu City Police Office Chief Col. Josefino Ligan.
One can only imagine the frustration the senior officials feel over this incident, a splatter of muck on their uniform that the organization had been trying to tidy up, at a time when the PNP has peristently been criticized for allegations of abuse and incompetence; add to that the perceived sanguinary clutter it had allegedly left in the drug war.
The Sawang Calero incident did not create as much noise on social media, being deprived of the digital requisites to be viral—a video upload. It was one woman’s undocumented ordeal in the hands of persons apparently soused up in their own might over a defenseless victim. Undocumented, indeed, as not a word in the station’s logbook recorded the hapless woman’s existence between March 9 and 11.
The PNP must do all it can to leave no stone unturned in the investigation and appropriately punish whoever are found guilty. And with transparency as a way to keep public trust.