Mañanita celebrant Police Major General Debold Sinas was accused of supposedly twisting the narrative when he claimed that the female Grab driver who was arrested by a law enforcer earlier this week had “assaulted” and “bullied” the latter.
The Metro Manila top cop defended Police Captain Ronald Saquilayan, chief investigator of Pateros police unit, after he arrested 26-year-old Mary Florence Norial and accused her of direct assault, alarm and scandal and disobedience to authority on Tuesday.
Norial, according to reports, asked Saquilayan, to move his vehicle that was supposedly blocking the exit driveway of a mall in Barangay Ususan, Taguig after she had picked up her Grab passenger.
She flashed her vehicle’s headlights and honked at Saquilayan’s Ford Ranger but his automobile didn’t move. This prompted her to walk over and knocked at the driver seat but she was still ignored.
Norial sought assistance from a nearby security guard and they knocked once more on the Ranger’s door.
It finally swung open, but the sudden movement caused her to fall over to the bushes beside the driveway, which resulted in injuries.
Norial slapped the driver on impulse, but it turned out that it was Saquilayan, who was wearing casual attire. He reportedly arrested her without reading her rights, a standard procedure when it comes to conducting arrests.
Saquilayan, on the other hand, reportedly told the security guard that he was waiting for his daughter to finish buying food in a coffee shop within the area, hence his unmoving vehicle.
Norial was persistent that the cop should move and she allegedly threatened for him to be reported to media after finding out that he is a law enforcer.
“Kinausap niya (Saquilayan) ‘yung security guard na ‘please pa-advise sila (Norial) na magpila uli kasi hindi pa naibigay ‘yung binibili kaso ‘yung babae (Norial) namimilit,” Sinas narrated to reporters.
“Tinawag pa niya (Norial) kapatid niya. Nagbitaw naman ng salita ‘yung pulis, na minasama naman, at sinabi na sandali lang at may aayusin,” he added.
“So ngayon, siyempre nagte-threatan na ‘yung babae, based sa statement ng police, ‘O sige police ka pala, ipa-pa-media ko kayo, ipapa ‘Tulfo’ ko kayo.’ Eh di nairita na rin ang pulis kasi parang tinatakot at binu-bully pa siya so inaresto na siya ngayon at dinala sa station,” Sinas further said.
Grab Philippines spokesperson Nicka Hosaka on Wednesday said that they were “already investigating the matter” and have “reached out to the family of the driver.”
Norial’s boyfriend, Mirza Miguel Shahzad, denied that the Grab driver supposedly bullied Saquilayan and added that they have videos to “prove” their side.
Sinas said that the incident will be investigated separately and asked the public to listen to the police’s side as well.
“Pakinggan din natin ‘yung side ng pulis namin. Kasi ang pulis naman mayroon kaming directive na ‘di po kami tumatakbo sa social media at magsalita ng kung ano-ano,” he said.
Following Sinas’ defense, Filipinos accused him of supposedly twisting the narrative to make it appear that Saquilayan, who arrested a civilian in casual attire without reading her rights, was the one who got “bullied” and “threatened.”
“How is asking to move the officer’s vehicle a threat? Did the woman threaten to kill the officer? Did she have a gun? If we’re going to base an officer’s authority to conduct an arrest from their own subjective standard of a threat, then we’re screwed,” a Twitter user pointed out.
“The narrative that a cop can be bullied is unbelievable,” commented another online user.
“Tanga ka ba Sinas? How could a female Grab driver threaten a cop? Wow lang ha, kakatulak lang sa driver gamit ang car door ar bumagsak siya agad at nasugatan—pero ‘yung pulis talaga ang natakot noh??? Lie to us once mañanita (and) for sure you will always lie!” a different Twitter user wrote.
Another online user claiming to be connected with Norial shared his thoughts on the matter.
“Nakakagigil. She’s my best friend’s cousin and, during that time, we’re looking for a lawyer because this man stood by the SB (Starbucks) doorway and wouldn’t let her leave. He forcefully opened his car’s door which led her to be thrown to the bushes. Tapos ikaw ang ‘bullied,'” he wrote.
A Filipino user also pointed out that even if Norial had supposedly bullied Saquilayan, the latter should be able to practice “maximum tolerance” as expected of law enforcers.
Akbayan Party-list Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales, former Commission on Human Rights chief, also decried the “manhandling and arbitrary arrest” done to the Grab driver.
Binatikos ni Akbayan Party-list Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales ang ginawang “manhandling and arbitrary arrest” ni Capt. Ronald Saquilayan sa Grab driver na si Florence Norial sa Taguig City noong Martes. pic.twitter.com/NyvRV6Veef
— News5 (@News5PH) October 9, 2020
As uniformed personnel take the lead in enforcing quarantine protocols while government-implemented measures are in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease, instances of authority abuse have surfaced in previous months.
Philstar.com reported that at least four incidents have occurred at the height of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, the strictest level of quarantine status, during the first months of the pandemic.
These include police officers barging in a condominium at Taguig, a physical altercation with a Dasmariñas Village resident, the shooting of an army veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and the arrest of Sitio San Roque residents demanding for food and financial aid.
Reuters previously reported that some Filipinos feel scared of the national police’s involvement in the government’s campaign against the coronavirus due to its reputation on conducting bloody “Oplan Tokhang” operations.