The Court of Appeals has sustained the dismissal of three Pasay City policemen for extorting a couple they arrested in a supposed anti-drug operation in 2013.
In a 20-page decision, the CA’s Special Third Division upheld the August 2017 order of the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing Police Master Sergeants Ronaldo David and Christopher Torres and Patrolman Bonifacio Tagcos from the police service.
The appellate court denied for lack of merit the petition of the three police officers seeking reversal of the Ombudsman ruling.
The appellate court agreed with the finding of the Ombudsman that the three were guilty of grave misconduct for extorting money from couple Aleasar Makaundas and Zinaida Haddisalem Laoon and during a warrantless raid in their house in Parañaque City in December 2013.
In the ruling penned by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta, the CA cited as “qualifying element of corruption” the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showing that Torres accompanied Laoon to withdraw her money.
The appellate court turned down the claims of petitioners that they were merely conducting a follow-up operation upon orders of their superior who already passed away and that they only accompanied the complainant to provide security, saying they failed to provide evidence to support such defenses.
The CA also cited the lack of a search warrant for the operation, which means it was conducted in violation of the Constitution.
It also said that there were no records or reports on the operation in violation of the 2010 Manual on Anti-Illegal Drugs Operation and Investigation.
The CA even used the policemen’s defense of length of service, commendations and lack of prior disciplinary record to their disadvantage.
It applied their good record as aggravating circumstances because “they are expected to be more knowledgeable of basic police procedures and more discerning in the execution of their duties as police officers.”
Records showed that the policemen raided the victim’s house took jewelry and their store’s P100,000 earnings, made them withdraw P450,000 from the bank, and forced them to sign a blank deed selling their 2010 Mitsubishi Montero for P1.05 million.
The policemen also threatened them to keep quiet or charges would be filed against them.