Manila Police to ‘killer’ cop witnesses: Stand by your claims

Rambo Talabong

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Manila Police to ‘killer’ cop witnesses: Stand by your claims
Manila Police District Chief Directorial Staff Bartolome Bustamante calls on the accusers of PO3 Ronald Alvarez to stand by their claims and to give their sworn statements.

MANILA, Philippines— “Hindi naman pwedeng yung sabi nila ganito ang totoo tapos hindi na pwedeng tayuan. Tayuan nila,” (It cannot be that they say this is true and then they will not stand by it. They should stand by it.)

This is what Manila Police District Chief Directorial Staff Bartolome Bustamante said when asked to comment to an exclusive Rappler story which recounted witnesses accusing PO3 Ronald Alvarez of Manila Police District (MPD) Station 2 as behind the drug-related deaths of Mario Rupillo, Danilo Dacillo, Joshua Cumilang, and Rex Aparri.

According to Bustamante, the witnesses from the story need to “stand up” and submit sworn statements for them to convict Alvarez by contesting the spot reports—the police reports immediately prepared after operations and encounters.

Until then, Alvarez, according to Bustamante, remains a night patroller for MPD Station 2.

“We have documents showing otherwise,” Bustamante said about the witness accounts. “We do not know if these documents, if these reports are true or not. But we rely on [the spot reports]. Unless otherwise there is contrary to the allegation na ganito ang totoo diyan (that this is the truth).”

Bustamante explained that his police officers regularly tried to reach out to the people present after encounters for their side to be taken into account, but nobody has come forward on the spot to counter the account of the police.

Kasi for us wala kaming hawak na ibang evidence other than those presented by Alvarez,” Bustamante said. (Because we do not hold other evidence aside from those presented by Alvarez.)

“Welcomed development”

Bustamante urged the witnesses to “have faith in the system.” However, Bustamante admitted that they need the help of witnesses to catch “bad cops”

He said: “As long na sinundan mo yung [police operational procedure], andun yung presumption of regularity. But if you divert or go against those established rules, may problema ka. But who will help us? Kasi sa crime scene wala kami doon. We’ll just rely on the statement on the report, pero kung may ebidensya otherwise na maliban doon sa kwento, doon kami sa mas matimbang na ebidensya.

(As long as you follow the police operational procedure, the presumption of regularity is there. But if you divert or go against those established rules, may problema ka. But who will help us? We are not in the crime scene. We’ll just rely on the statement on the report, but if there is evidence contrary to the story, we will go with the more believable evidence.)

“These are welcomed developments,” said Bustamante. “Kasi kung sila ay hindi tatayo at paninindigan ang tama, ano ang mangyayari sa bansa natin?” (Because if they will not stand up for the right thing, what will happen to our country?)

Bustamante explained that if the witnesses distrust and fear the police too much to offer their statements at a station, they have various avenues for them to report Alvarez, including the criminal courts, the People’s Law Enforcement Board, the Ombudsman, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, or the nearest Public Attorney’s Office.

Witnesses lying?

Bustamante said that that the witnesses “may be lying.” He speculated that the witnesses and relatives of the victims may be “aggrieved” enough to do it.

Namatay yung kamag-anak nila, how to get even with these police officers? So may (posibleng) motibo din sila,” Bustamante said. (Their relatives died. How do they get even with the police? So there is a possible motive.)

He clarified that he is merely speculating this motive because he was “not there and not part of the operation”. Thus, he does not have “personal knowledge.”

“I do not know who’s telling the truth,” he said. “But the point is we have the documents with us. We do not have evidence from them. So give us the evidence and those affidavits, statements, or any other material evidence that they saw in the crime scene to prove the allegations of the police is not true, and we will investigate.” –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.