Even without an arrest warrant, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Debold Sinas issued an ultimatum against the suspects in the alleged rape-slay of 23-year-old flight attendant Christine Angelica Dacera: surrender in 72 hours or be hunted down.
Sinas' threat was announced through a PNP statement released on Tuesday evening, January 5.
"This is a fair warning. Surrender within seventy-two (72) hours or we will hunt you down using force if necessary," Sinas was quoted in the statement.
He added: "We know who you are. Your family must turn you over to the police. Those found to be abetting your escape will also be arrested."
Sinas' threat, without legal basis, shows a PNP bent on solving a case that has placed the police force's investigative ability on trial, following weeks of controversy surrounding back-to-back incidents of police abuse.
Three suspects have been arrested in the Dacera case. Some 9 other suspects were identified as still at-large. They have been provisionally charged, but no warrant has been issued as the complaint has not reached court.
The suspects, all men, were last seen with Dacera on New Year's Eve in a Makati hotel before she was found dead the next day in her room's bathtub.
Pressed to explain what "hunting down" means without a warrant, PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Ildebrandi Usana said it would involve policemen inviting the suspects to give their testimony on the case.
Because the PNP has no basis to compel them to speak aside from the intimidating show of force, Usana said the suspects can decline. He said it would come with consequences, however.
"We will only speak with them, not arrest them. The point is, why wouldn't they want to speak?" Usana said. – Rappler.com
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.