Despite PNP ban, Isko Moreno presents suspects to media

Sofia Tomacruz
Despite PNP ban, Isko Moreno presents suspects to media
The Philippine National Police has long banned the practice of presenting suspects to media to avoid trials by publicity

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Isko Moreno opened another week in office as he burst into people’s social media feeds presenting some of the capital city’s most wanted suspects on Monday, July 15.

After a flag raising ceremony at the newly-cleaned Bonifacio monument, Moreno gathered media at the city hall where, along with cops, 3 of the city’s most wanted suspects and a woman accused of extorting money from vendors stood before rolling cameras.

The early Monday morning scene was dramatic, suspects turning away from the cameras as they hid behind one another. This practice has also long been banned by the Philippine National Police. (READ: A rule too late? PNP bans presenting suspects to the media)

Since June 2018, the PNP stopped the practice of presenting suspects to media to avoid trials by publicity. PNP officials decided to follow a 2008 memorandum circular written by former PNP chief Jesus Verzosa, which declared the presentation of suspects a violation of human rights.

Rappler has reached out to Moreno’s office for comment but has not yet received a response as of posting time.

What happened? Side by side, the suspects stood in the city hall’s Katipunan hall on Monday morning as they tried to hide their faces by looking away from the camera or covering their heads with handerkchiefs.

The 3 suspects were the following:

  • Irwin Pelina – wanted for robbery with unnecessary violence, 8th most wanted of the Manila Police Distirct (arrest warrant issued on March 19, 2018)
  • Bob Navarro – wanted for rape, 4th most wanted of Moriones Police Station (arrest warrant issued on August 31, 2018)
  • Jason Fullantes – wanted for rape, top most wanted of Ermita Police Station (arrest Warrant issued on January 8, 2019)

The 3 individuals were arrested last July 9, 13, and 12, respectively.

Moreno then presented a woman named Melanie Angeles who was reported to extort some P500 to P1,000 from sidewalk vendors along Recto-Soler. Angeles was arrested after reports were filed by citizens at Moreno’s office, prompting surveillance operations followed by an entrapment.

Mga tao nanonood, tayo po ay nagsasaayos ng kalye….Sinabi ko na sa ‘yo mga organizer, magsipagbalik na kayo sa kani-kaniyang bayan. Hindi na kayo welcome dito (To those who are watching, we’re trying to clean up our streets….I’ve told you organizers, go back to where you came from. You’re not welcome here),” Moreno said.

Sabi ko na tigilan ‘nyo yun mga Eddie at Patty. Ayaw ‘nyo makinig, akala ‘nyo ay joke kami. Tingnan po ‘nyo,” Moreno added as he presented the suspect to media. (I told you to stop taking money. You don’t want to listen, you thought we were joking. Look.)

Moreno’s promised clearing operations across Manila have been regarded as his biggest accomplishment so far. It involved asking vendors to clear major thoroughfares and set up shops in designated areas. Moreno earlier assured vendors that when they moved their shops, they would no longer need to pay syndicates who collected money from them.

The presentation of the suspects served as a warning and a way to tell the public that change is coming. (READ: ‘Wala nang mayor na natutulog sa Maynila’ – Isko Moreno)

In an Inquirer report, Moreno said that while suspects were presented, their rights were still respected as their faces were covered. He added that the individuals were considered innocent until proven otherwise, though they were already presented to the public. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.