8 cops involved in viral EDSA incident – PNP

Bea Cupin

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8 cops involved in viral EDSA incident – PNP
The viral photo of armed men who surrounded a car on EDSA last week results in a full-blown police probe

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Under the guise of a drug bust, 8 current and one dismissed cop allegedly robbed, held up and abducted 2 persons onboard a Toyola Fortuner on EDSA in broad daylight on August 31.

A photo of the Monday, September 1 incident showed several men, a
sedan and a van surrounding an SUV. The picture went viral on social media, 
prompting the investigation.

The victims were carrying P2 million (about $45,000) in cash and were still ordered by the cops to withdraw from their ATMs after their abduction, police investigation showed.

Police generals said at least 9 policemen from the La Loma Investigation Unit – including one already dismissed from the service – were involved in the incident. Two of them – Chief Inspector Joseph de Vera and Police Officer 2 (PO2) Jonathan Rodriguez – are already under PNP custody. The following are still at large, according to the PNP during a press conference on Monday, September 8:

Dismissed Senior Inspector Marco Polo Estrera
Senior Inspector Oliver Villanueva
Senior Police Officer 1 Rameil Hachero
PO2 Weavin Masa
PO2 Mark De Paz
PO2 Jerome Datinguinoo
PO2 Ebonn Decatoria

Eastern Police District director Chief Superintendent Abelardo
Villacorta said De Vera initially denied involvement in the robbery
and kidnapping when he was questioned on Sunday, September 7. He
later admitted to his role in the incident after being shown pictures
and other documents.

Villacorta said De Vera’s unit was not authorized to conduct a drug
bust and that they had not coordinated with the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency.

De Vera underwent inquest proceedings September 8, just before the
press conference; he was charged with robbery and kidnapping with serious illegal detention. Rodriguez, on the other hand, was arrested on Monday afternoon.

Estrera, who was dismissed in 2006. drove the sedan seen in the photo, investigation showed.

How it happened

The victims, who were presented during the press conference but refused to speak, said they were taken to the La Loma police station along with the P2-million cash they were carrying on August 31. On their way, they were supposedly made to withdraw more money from their ATMs. 

The victims were carrying P2 million reportedly for a transaction with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

At the La Loma station, the two were detained for over 7 hours but eventually released at around 9 pm on September 1. The SUV was returned with its windshield replaced. 

During a set-up operation Sunday, no less than NCR police chief Carmelo Valmoria visited the police station, where De Vera was on duty.  

It was during a closed-door interview with Valmoria that De Vera admitted his involvement in the incident. De Vera also listed down the names of the other cops involved in the EDSA heist, along with the cops who allegedly watched over the 2 victims while they were detained inside the police station. 

Quezon City Police District chief Chief Superintendent Richard Albano said the records of the cops allegedly involved in the incident were being checked. Police are also checking other La Loma cops for possible involvement in the case.  

The police station chief has also been relieved due to command responsibility, Albano said. 

Albano described the involvement of the Quezon city cops as “disgusting.” Late August, another Quezon city cop was arrested for allegedly gunning down race car driver Enzo Pastor.  

Sinasali nila yung magagaling, yung dedicated na pulis ng QCPD. Parang nakakasama talaga ng loob. Binibigay mo lahat ng kailangan… di ko alam saan lupalop nanggaling ang mga demonyong ito kung paano napasok,” Albano told reporters. (They’re dragging down the good, dedicated cops of QCPD. It pains me. You give them what they need. I don’t know where these cops come from, and how they got in.)  

Valmoria appealed to the public not to judge the PNP based on the acts of a few

Masakit sa amin (It pains us) but we will get rid of the scalawags,” he said. – Rappler.com

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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.