Caught on video: Police allegedly planting evidence during raid

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Police officers clad in civilian clothing allegedly planted evidence during an anti-drug operation, CCTV videos show.

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday presented the videos during the Senate probe on kidnap-for-ransom cases allegedly committed by the police.

The videos showed a group of men wearing hooded jackets barging into an office. One of them beat an employee up, but two men in black uniforms stopped him and escorted the employee out.

"These are police officers," Lacson said.

But what the cops did in the next clip shown by Lacson was a lot worse than conducting a raid without wearing the proper uniform. 

"May mauuna rito, may backpack, magpplant ng mga shabu, and then papasok yung raiding party (Someone will go here first, with a backpack, and plant shabu, then the raiding party will come)" Lacson said.

A closer look at the time-stamps, however, indicate that the police entered the office at around 2:42 p.m., while the supposed planting of evidence by a man carrying a white bag, happened at 3:01 p.m.

Another clip showed the cops placing what Lacson believes was shabu in an empty room at 2:44 p.m. In another clip, the employees were seated at the corners of the office at 2:45 p.m., while members of the raiding hit some of them. They were then confined in a small room at 2:48 p.m.

Lacson refused to name the source of the video. "Takot na takot, ayaw talaga magcomplaint (The victim was very scared and did not want to file a complaint," he said.

He said the police officers took P7 million worth of loot from the raid, and even asked the business owner for an additional P2 million.  

The National Capital Region Police Office on Friday said the policemen caught in the video have been relieved from their posts.

NCRPO Chief Oscar Albayalde confirmed the incident happened in Metro Manila, but refused to give the names of the police officers involved.

He, however, confirmed Lacson's claim the cops are part of the Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Group, and the highest rank among them is a chief inspector.

On Thursday, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald Dela Rosa ordered the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group to get more details from Lacson for the filing of administrative charges against the erring policemen.

"Klaro naman yung mga mukha maaksyunan namin agad your honor pwede namin madismiss (Their faces are clear in the video so we can take proper action and possibly dismiss them)," Dela Rosa told Lacson during the hearing.

Not an isolated case?

Lacson, who was a former PNP chief, said the video is but one incident of "excesses being committed by our policemen."

Lacson said there are at least 12 cases of rogue policemen victimizing Chinese nationals, based on information from Teresita Ang See, head of the anti-crime watchdog Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order.

In one case, eight armed cops kidnapped a certain Xia Xin Ming from his house in Manila and demanded P3 million from the family. Lacson said the victim was still subjected to inquest proceedings even after ransom was paid.

On October 24, policemen also took another victim in Muntinlupa and asked for P500, 000 from the family. But because they only gave P200, 000, the cops filed an illegal drugs case against the victim, who is still in jail to date, Lacson said.

Senator Leila De Lima also asked Dela Rosa to look into reports that a group of armed, masked men would usually go ahead of policemen and kill suspects during "Oplan Tokhang" operations.  "And then of several minutes later, diyan na papasok yung isa pang grupo na uniporamdo na, regular unit na at yun ang aako ng incident (Minutes after, another group of uniformed police will take accountability of the incident)."

Lacson urged Dela Rosa to create a special police unit composed of "chosen people who will implement counter-intelligence efforts to pounce on our own people who are committing shenanigans."

Lacson said internal cleansing is important for the government's war on drugs to prosper.

"May tinitingan din tayo dito sa loob, sariling bakuran kasi mahirap magsucceed sa war against illegal drugs kung meron ka pa ring problema sa loob (We are also looking inside the police force, because it is difficult to succeed in the drug war if there are internal problems)," Lacson said.

But for Dela Rosa, the incidents mentioned by Lacson are isolated cases. "Isolated in a sense na hindi ito dapat i-lump sa illegal drug operations (These should not be lumped together with other illegal drug operations)."

The Senate is investigating kidnap for ransom incidents allegedly committed by the police after the abduction and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo. SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, one of the police officers allegedly involved in the kidnap-slay, was also present in Thursdays senate hearing. 

Also read: SPO3 Sta. Isabel arrested, detained at Camp Crame