Philippine National Police

Cordillera police chief speaks out: I was acting on neighborhood complaint

Rambo Talabong
Cordillera police chief speaks out: I was acting on neighborhood complaint

CAUGHT ON CCTV. Brigadier General Rwin Pagkalinawan enforces the law in an area outside his assigned jurisdiction in plainclothes with a rifle and without a mask

Screenshot from CCTV footage courtesy of the Delos Santos family

Cordillera police chief Brigadier General Rwin Pagkalinawan fails to explain why he was enforcing the law in Taguig City instead of their headquarters in La Trinidad, Benguet

Brigadier General Rwin Pagkalinawan, chief of the Cordillera police, said he was acting on a neighborhood complaint when he led the destruction of a Taguig family’s front-of-home barrier when Metro Manila was under strict lockdown.

“As homeowner [association] president, I responded to my neighbors’ complaint and simply removed the barbed wire fence placed on the village road blocking ingress/egress,” Pagkalinawan tweeted on Tuesday, July 21.

Pagkalinawan lived just some 50 meters away from the home of the embattled Delos Santos family – a household of around 10 who are occupying an abandoned police lot there that family patriarch, a retired policeman, used to occupy.

They have secured a certificate of occupancy to stay in the area and have accused police of harassing them to leave. (READ: NCRPO chief, officials seek to evict family in Taguig)

Why was Cordillera police chief in Taguig?

Pagkalinawan said he was acting as the president of their neighborhood association, the Southern Police District Homeowners Association Incorporated (SPD HAI). He did not elaborate.

He said it was a “spur of the moment decision” to take down the Delos Santos family’s barricade, leading him to leave his house without wearing the required face mask.

The general also toted a rifle. He said he carried it because he saw the retired Delos Santos family patriarch as a threat as he was a former law enforcer.

The men who accompanied him, he said, were not policemen but civilians, contradicting the PNP’s identification of them as cops under the Southern Police District of the National Capital Region Police Office.

Pagkalinawan failed to explain why he was enforcing the law in Taguig City instead of their headquarters in La Trinidad, Benguet.

He’s planning to sue

The Delos Santos family, in previous interviews, stressed that they placed the barrier and the cameras to prevent any incident of police abuse. With the footage, they have filed a complaint against Pagkalinawan with the Philippine National Police, triggering a probe by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Pagkalinawan, on the other hand, accused the Delos Santos family of setting up the barricades and CCTV cameras as a trap against law enforcers to get the media’s attention. He said he will file complaints of privacy violation and unjust vexation.

On Saturday, July 18, the same set of CCTV cameras that caught Pagkalinawan captured Metro Manila police chief Major General Debold Sinas leading a team of cops in attempting to evict the Delos Santos family.

Sinas was seen shouting at the family and Metro Manila intelligence chief Colonel Remus Medina snatching the phone of one Delos Santos family member who tried to record the confrontation. The PNP national headquarters has promised an investigation into the incident. –

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.