ILOILO City – Councilor Plaridel Nava filed administrative charges against 17 officers of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) for arresting his two security aides without arrest warrants last month.
The charges, file yesterday afternoon at the Office of the Ombudsman, were for grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service.
Nava sought the police officers’ dismissal from government service, forfeiture of their benefits and other emoluments, and perpetual disqualification from holding government posts.
But while the charges were being heard, according to Nava, the police officers should be placed under preventive suspension for at least 90 days to deter them from using their positions to harass him as complainant.
Nava’s security aides Roy Delos Reyes, 42, of Barangay West Timawa, Molo district and brother Rey Julius, 34, were arrested around 12:06 p.m. on Jan. 7 at the councilor’s office at city hall.
The brothers were suspects in the assassination of the councilor’s cousin Mercedes Nava in Barangay Calajunan, Mandurriao district on Jan. 4.
According to policemen, they recovered from Rey Julius two .45 pistols with bullets, a hand grenade, P12,000 cash and a black holster, and from Roy a .45 pistol with bullets and P1,770 cash.
Policemen said the arrest was carried out without the need for an arrest warrant because they were on a “hot pursuit” operation.
Nava, however, said the so-called “hot pursuit” was no longer applicable in his security aides’ case, thus their arrest was illegal.
The respondents were ICPO director Senior Superintendent Martin Defensor, Superintendent Godfrey Buslotan, Police Station 1 commander Superintendent Jonathan Pablito, Mandurriao police commander Chief Inspector Marlon Valencia, Senior Police Officer 2 Edward Barrida, Police Officer 2 Cyril Maestre, Police Officer 2 John Marcel San Pedro, Police Officer 3 Richard Ivan Lopez, Police Officer 3 Oliver Lonasco, Senior Police Officer 2 Jessie Jim Rubio, Police Officer 3 Joel Novera, Police Officer 3 Ricardo Morante, Senior Police Officer 1 Vernie Escorial, Police Officer 3 Vincent Angelo Hongco, Police Officer 2 Melvin Nino, Police Officer 2 Enrico Gonzales, and Police Officer 2 Peter Organia.
According to Nava, under 5 (b) of Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, two conditions must be met for a warrantless arrest to be valid: one, the offender has just committed an offense; two, the arresting peace officer or private person has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed the offense.
“Personal knowledge of facts in arrests without a warrant must be based upon probable cause, which means an actual belief or reasonable ground of suspicion,” said Nava, citing the case People vs Cubcubin Jr., GR No. 136267, July 10, 2001.
Nava pointed out that his cousin was killed on Jan. 4 around noon and the warrantless arrest of the Delos Reyes brothers was effected only after three days, on Jan. 7 at around1:30 p.m.
“The first element which is ‘the offender has just committed an offense’ is clearly wanting,” according to Nava.
The councilor also argued that the respondents had no personal knowledge of facts showing that the brothers Delos Reyes committed the crime. They relied mainly on the information relayed by two “eyewitness” – one who alleged that she saw Roy shooting the Mercedes while the other averred she saw Rey Julius following Mercedes’ vehicle.
As to the firearms and grenade that the cops supposedly recovered from the Delos Reyes brothers, Nava said these were “planted’ by the policemen.
He also said if proven that the arrest was illegal, the subsequent search should also be deemed unlawful, and thus the recovered items must be “inadmissible in evidence being ‘fruits of a poisonous tree.’”
Nava further stressed it was quite impossible to bring unlicensed firearms inside city hall without metal detectors detecting these.
The councilor criticized the police for the “haphazard” investigation on Mercedes’ killing. There were available witness and evidences that were helpful but totally disregarded, he lamented.
He also noted that the sworn statements of the police’s witnesses were only signed and subscribed on Jan. 8, after the arrest of the Delos Reyes brothers on Jan. 7./PN