Olongapo City – Local chairperson of Anakpawis Olongapo City, Mr. Santos Umipil, cried foul over harassment and assault done to four civilians namely Lee Corpus, Ronaldo Valdez, Walter Visda and Carmelito Patindao by a group of policemen headed by Captain Panchito Doble and four other police officers plus a civilian agent last May 19 around 8.30 in the evening in Corpus’s residence in Sitio Payudpud, Iram Resettlement New Cabalan, Olongapo City.

In the sworn statements of Santos et.al they narrated the four victims were talking about fencing Corpus’s backyard when they suddenly heard a group of men banging the gate. Two of the five men wearing civilian clothes barged in the house. The men turned out to be members of the Philippine National Police Station 4 New Cabalan Olongapo City and were looking for a certain Warren Visda and Carmelito Patindao.

Patindao and Visda, because of fear, immediately ran to the master’s toilet and bathroom respectively. The men however followed the two and physically assaulted them. Patindao narrated that the police officer pointed a gun at him, twisted his arm and dragged him “like an animal” to a distance that caused him bruises all over his body. Visda, on the other hand, was brought to the living room where the police officer holding him flashed light to his face and asked the other officer whether he was the Warren Visda they were looking for. The other police officer said no.

Umipil on the other hand lives across the street and was disturbed by the noise happening in his aunt’s home . He decided to inquire to the civilian agent, Mr. Bernard dela Cruz, who was outside what was going on inside the house. Having learned that they have shown no arrest warrants and having witnessed the physical assault, Umipil argued with the police officers and reminded them of their violations. The policemen however ignored him.

Armand Hernando, CTUHR documentation coordinator said that disrespect for due process and police brutality should be put to a stop. “These are human rights violations that concerns not only organized individuals but by everyone in the communities. The law protects every individual’s freedom from any physical assault and right to privacy. There are processes and procedures that need to be followed and law enforcement agencies should learn to respect and follow these.”

Though the motive for the harassment and assault remains unclear, Umipil and the four other victims have already requested Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon to facilitate an investigation of the incident. Because of the trauma, physical injury and disrespect for human rights, they also plan to file complaints at the Commission on Human Rights against the abusive police officers.#