Supreme Court of the Philippines

Supreme Court junks appeal of 2 cops convicted of robbery by extortion

Dwight de Leon

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Supreme Court junks appeal of 2 cops convicted of robbery by extortion

HIGH COURT. File photo of the Supreme Court in Padre Faura, Manila, taken on December 5, 2023.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The case dates back to 2010, when a policeman offered not to file a complaint against a salesperson in exchange for P20,000. Another cop is dragged into the case for conspiring with the policeman.

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) announced on Wednesday, December 27, that it has upheld a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that convicted two police officers of robbery.

“Law enforcement officers who abuse their authority to intimidate persons under their custody for money are guilty of robbery by extortion,” the High Court ruling read, sealing the fate of Police Officer II (PO2) Ireneo Sosas Jr. and Senior Police Officer III (SPO3) Ariel Salvador.

The two are slapped with a prison sentence ranging from three years, six months, and 20 days, to eight years, eight months, and one day.

What happened

In November 2010, Sosas brought the complainant – a mobile phone salesperson named Janeth Arbuez – from the mall where she worked to the police station for supposedly selling stolen items.

In the police station, Sosas offered not to file a criminal complaint against Arbuez in exchange for P20,000. He later agreed to a lower amount on the condition that the two become “sweethearts.”

Arbuez rejected the condition, and she was released from police custody 18 hours later after her sister-in-law handed over P20,000 to Sosas.

How SC ruled

The Court said the following elements were established by the prosecution, paving the way for the conviction of the two cops:

  • There is personal property belonging to another
  • There is unlawful taking of that property
  • The taking is with intent to gain
  • There is violence against or intimidation of persons

Salvador was dragged into the case because the Court concluded that he conspired with Sosas in order to extort money from the salesperson.

The court ruling emphasized that police officers, as implementers of the law, are not in the position to demand money from private persons in exchange for a promise not to file a case against them.

“Given these circumstances, the threats of continued deprivation of liberty, and the possibility of criminal prosecution, it is easy to conclude that petitioners intimidated Arbuez into giving them the money. They are, therefore, guilty of robbery,” read the ruling penned by Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

Aside from the prison sentence, the cops are also ordered to pay the complainant “P20,000 as actual damages, with legal interest of 12 per annum from from November 9, 2010 until June 30, 2013, and 6% interest per annum from July 1, 2023 until fully paid.” – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.