MANILA, Philippines – Was it a case of power tripping or security guards failing to follow protocol?
Makati Mayor Junjun Binay allegedly ordered the arrest of 3 security personnel from the posh Dasmariñas Village in Makati after his 4-car convoy was not allowed to exit through one of its gates on November 30.
But Binay spokesman Joey Salgado called the report "false and downright malicious."
The Makati police however admitted they confiscated the village guards' firearms and brought them to a police station for "custodial questioning." They stayed there for 4 hours.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday, December 18, uploaded a 15-minute video taken from CCTV footage from the village. In the video, Binay's convoy, which included his sister Senator Nancy Binay, was barred from exiting the Banyan road exit on November 30, nearing midnight. The Binay siblings had come from a party, according to Salgado.
Less than a minute after his convoy was stopped, Mayor Binay was seen stepping out of the lead car to speak to village security. According to the Inquirer report, it's when Binay asked the village security: "Don't you know me?" Salgado denied the mayor said this.
After 15 minutes at the entrance and following the arrival of Makati policemen, Binay's convoy was eventually allowed to exit at the same gate. The security guards were then taken to the Makati City police station and held for nearly 4 hours there.
Filipinos on social media critcized Binay over the incident, calling him "arrogant" for the way he handled the situation. "Binay" was a top trending topic on social media site Twitter on Thursday, December 19.
Police to the rescue
A resident of nearby Forbes Park said the Banyan gate is used solely as an entrance to the village after 10 pm. Vehicles who wish to exit go through the Palm Avenue gate which is "around a block away."
Salgado said the mayor was "not familiar" with the set-up in the village. "So kung pumasok sila sa Banyan, dun sila lumabas rin," Salgado told Rappler on December 19. (They entered through Banyan, so they exited through Banyan.)
Throughout the 15-minute wait, the guards did not tell Binay's convoy that they could exit through another gate, according to Salgado.
In the video, Mayor Binay is seen speaking to someone on the phone, as a car wanting to enter through Banyan are redirected by village security to another gate.
Salgado said Binay called the Makati police to "diffuse tension."
"Dahil nga iniikutan ang convoy ni mayor ng security guards ng Dasma, they were armed. Siyempre as far as the security of mayor is concerned, their objective is to secure their principal," said Salgado. (The security guards were surrounding the mayor's convoy and they were armed.)
Only 3 village security guards were at the Banyan gate at the time Binay's 4-vehicle convoy was stopped. At the 6 minute mark, at least 3 men in motorcycles arrived around the same time that 2 men in police uniform reached the scene.
Ten minutes into the video, at least 4 more men in police attire arrived. Binay, his security team, and police at the scene then huddled beside the convoy.
A few minutes later, the group moved to the entrance to speak to village guards on duty. Thirteen minutes after, police and village security huddled at another spot, away from the scope of the CCTV camera.
Senator Binay downplayed the incident in a statement, saying they have already "forgotten about it." "No amount of explanation would satisfy those who have never-ending dislike for our family," she said.
The Binays' father is Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has declared his intention to run for president in 2016. The Binays have also ruled Makati for more than 2 decades now. Another sibling, Abigail, represents Makati in Congress.
Ram Antonio, president of village security agency Right Eight Security Inc., denied there was "tension" between Binay's convoy and his men.
Antonio insisted no arrests were made. "I don't know where [the report] came from. Sa amin lang, they were not detained. Ni hindi pinosasan mga tao namin," he told Rappler in a phone interview. (They weren't even handcuffed.)
His men went to the police to issue a statement, said Antonio, adding that it's the standard operating procedure for village guards to communicate closely with city police. Village security did not have a vehicle that night, so they opted to hitch a ride with the police, said Antonio.
Asked why it took the guards 4 hours to issue a statement, Antonio said it's the norm. "There are times that it takes more than 4 hours to file a complaint," he said.
Makati Chief of Police Superintendent Manuel Lukban Jr. said village security were brought to the station for custodial questioning. Their firearms were also confiscated temporarily. The village guards and Binay's convoy went to the station, said Lukban, to avoid a confrontation on the street.
"Hindi naman sa nagkakasagutan, pero nagkakaroon ng problem umintidi yung guard na kailangan pang ipag-paalam pa sa kung kani-kanino. Una, pumunta yung security ni mayor para makisuyo na ipadaan. Lumabas ulit yung isa pang security," said Lukban. Mayor Binay later stepped out of the car to identify himself, but the village guards would still not let them through. (It's not that they were fighting, but there was a problem with the security guards understanding the situtation. The mayor's security stepped out to ask that they be let through.)
After an hour, the questioning was over but the village guards stayed at the station to wait for the barangay captain and Antonio, Lukban said. "It just so happened nagka-kwentuhan pa kami dito ng 2-3 hours. Yung guards, hindi naman naka-detain. Naghihintay lang," Lukban added. (We were talking for a long time. The guards weren't detained, they were just waiting.)
Village security SOPs
After issuing a statement, the security guards were reminded about the company's SOP for VIPs but were not sanctioned.
Antonio said village security has already identified lapses on the part of its guards, adding that it's standard operating procedure (SOP) to allow the president, the vice president, and the mayor of the city or municipality they are in to pass through any of the village gates, no questions asked.
The posh village is also home to many embassies, government officials, and other VIPs.
"It's a courtesy extended automatically for security reasons," said Antonio. "The mayor is like the president of the city, the head."
After that night, who would doubt that? – with reports from Ayee Macaraig and Bea Cupin/Rappler.com