Lapses in Vhong Navarro case prompts new rules on blotters

Bea Cupin

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PNP Chief Alan Purisima says police units are not lacking in competent officers and fund support from LGUs to investigate properly; some cops are just lazy

LAPSES COMMITTED. PNP Chief Alan Purisima orders a new protocol for police blotters after the Southern Police District is found to have committed "lapses" in a case involved Vhong Navarro and Deniece Cornejo. File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – From now on, only “frontline” policemen and units will be allowed to make police blotters from citizens’ complaints, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Alan Purisima said in a press briefing on Wednesday, February 5.

The change in the PNP’s protocol comes the same week when 5 members of the Southern Police District (SPD) were temporarily relieved over what the Purisima says were lapses in the way they handled the now controversial case involving comedian Vhong Navarro and model Deniece Cornejo.

On January 22, the comedian was mauled by several men in what he says is a case of extortion. The same night, Cornejo filed a blotter report before the SPD accusing Navarro of attempted rape. Navarro, who had already been beaten up, says the blotter was only filed for blackmail. 

SPD head Chief Superintendent Jet Villacorte said the 5 “were relieved administratively pending the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the IAS (Internal Affairs Service) of the PNP.”

Who can receive complaints?

The new PNP directive on blotters, issued on February 3, means that from now on, “only units with the capability to investigate cases can handle police blotters.”

Staff officers in a precinct or station – or those who are part of the administrative, intelligence, investigation, logistics, finance, comptroller, police community relations, divisions of police units – are not allowed to process blotters. 

Before, all policemen – including those that form the police staff – could process police blotters. “That’s how the problem started,” said PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac. 

Should personnel or units without “the capability to investigate” get complainants, they should direct them to the proper precincts or stations.

The PNP’s investigative units, which includes the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and their regional or provincial units, are still allowed to process blotters. 

Regional and provincial offices, for instance, should bring complainants to the nearest precinct or station, said Sindac. In the case of the SPD, the complainants should have been bought to the nearby Taguig Police Station. 

Ill-equipped or lazy?

The blotter against Navarro was processed by the SPD’s District Investigation and Detection Management (DIDM) Division, which Purisima said was ill-eqquiped to handle the case. 

Purisima said of DIDM Division head Superintendent Nelson Bautista, Senior Inspector Eduardo Alcantara, PO3 Dalmacio Lumiwan, PO3 Rolly Laurento, and PO3 Eugene Pugal of the SPD: “Kung ikaw pulis, may taong bugbog sarado sa harap mo, hindi mo pa ipapa-medico?” (If you’re a police officer and before you is a man beaten black and blue, wouldn’t you send him to the doctor?)

SPD police said they repeatedly asked Navarro if he needed help, but the comedian said he didn’t. Purisima said it was not an excuse. “Hindi ba nila nakita na under duress yung tao?” he said. (Couldn’t they see that he was under duress?)

The “lack of resources” of some stations and precincts is not – and should not be – an excuse, because all stations have sufficient funds. Local governments, added Purisima, have also been pouring resources into local police.

Katamaran lang siguro (They’r just being lazy),” he said of the possible reasons why police staff wouldn’t be able to refer complainants to the proper officers or stations.

Purisima said they will also be checking if the SPD committed other lapses in connection with the Navarro-Cornejo case. Officers who committed lapses “should be dealt with accordingly,” said the police chief.

The police officers on duty said Navarro, Cornejo, and business Cedric Lee, who allegedly beat up the actor, asked them not to leak the incident to media. Cornejo also told police she did not want to press charges against Navarro. 

Purisima said the case is a reminder for police to take charge of complaints that enter their stations or precincts. “You should be in command. Hindi p’wede na ‘yung complainant ang may command sa iyo,” he said (You can’t let the complainant tell you what to do.) –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.