‘I responded to neighbor’s complaint’: Cordillera police chief defends move to evict family in Taguig

July 22, 2020 - 3:51 PM
This image shows National Capital Region Police Office chief Major General Debold Sinas leading the cops who attempted to evict Delos Santos family in Taguig City. (Screenshot from CCTV footage of Arles Delos Santos/Facebook)

The provincial police chief who was also caught on CCTV camera supposedly harassing a family in Taguig City claimed that he acted based on a neighbor’s complaint.

The Delos Santos family who lives in an abandoned unit of the Philippine National Police in Taguig City claimed that they have been facing police intimidation since the family patriarch, Arnel Delos Santos, retired from the agency in November 2019. The family has been residing there since 2010.

This year, they were harassed twice, one recent incident involved embattled National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Major General Debold Sinas.

Sinas accused the family of living there illegally despite a certificate of occupancy and a police document that stated otherwise.

Prior to this, last April 22, when Luzon was still under the enhanced community quarantine, Cordillera police chief Brigadier General Rwin Pagkalinawan led at least seven men to dismantle the family’s improvised barricade supposedly to prevent cops from harassing them, which event was captured on the family’s CCTV camera.

Reports said that some of the men were identified as members of the Southern Police District. They were also reportedly armed and wearing civilian clothing. They were, however, not wearing face masks, thus violating strict quarantine protocols.

Pagkalaniwan also does not have jurisdiction to enforce the law in Taguig City because his base of command is located in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Pagkalinawan’s side

In a Twitter thread on July 21, Pagkalinawan claimed that he only responded to a neighbor’s complaint as the president of the Southern Police District Homeowners Association Incorporated (SPD HAI).

He also admitted that he considered the family patriarch as a “threat” merely because he was a retired law enforcer.

“As homeowner association president, I responded to my neighbor’s complaint and simply removed the barbed wire fence placed on the village road blocking ingress/egress. I considered him as a threat because Delos Santos is a retired PNP and could be armed,” Pagkalinawan said.

Contrary to what the CCTV video showed, he also claimed that he forgot to wear a face mask because of a “spur of the moment decision.”

“The illegal fence placed to block the village road was 50 meters away from my house which was a spur of the moment decision which I admit, forgot to wear a mask. I had no intention to evict Delos Santos, but simply paved and the right of way of the association,” he said.

Pagkalinawan also clarified that there were no cops with him back then.

“It was just me, neighbors and laborers I asked to help remove the barbed fence blocking the road. All those materials used to the fence were placed in the old PNP motorpool garage where Delos Santos is an illegal occupant,” he said.

Similar to Sinas, Pagkalinawan said that he will file appropriate charges to the family for “privacy violation and unjust vexation” and accused them of being illegal settlers.

Sinas faces probe anew

In a Facebook post, last Saturday, July 18, Arles Delos Santos shared video clips from their family’s CCTV camera that showed Sinas and other police officials who suddenly arrived at their home which is at the old Regional Direct Support Unit (RDSU) Building of the NCRPO in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

In the videos, the police officers were seen dismantling their gate, forcing their way into their premises and demanding them to leave.

This event also happened during the first day of the effectivity of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

DAY 1 OF ATL: PNP RISE TO POWERAlas-4 ng hapon, nagpapahinga kami dito ng mga kapatid ko sa bahay namin. Maayos kaming…

Posted by Arles Delos Santos on Saturday, July 18, 2020

Arles narrated that Sinas and his men were also looking for his parents who happened to be not at home at that time.

Arles immediately showed them their legal documents as proof that they had been living there legally. One of the documents also bore Sinas’ signature.

Sinas, on the other hand, failed to present evidence to the victims indicating that their activity was legitimate.

On Monday, June 20, the PNP announced that Sinas faces probe anew for alleged harassment of the civilian family.

Sinas previously celebrated his 55th birthday at Camp Bagong Diwa, when Luzon was still under ECQ, thus violating strict lockdown rules he was supposed to enforce.

Despite the violations, President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that the embattled police chief will maintain his post, citing he was “a good officer.”