By Jennifer P. Rendon
More than a week into the alleged abduction that happened in a busy street of City Proper district, the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) said it will pursue its probe on the incident.
This, despite no complaint from the victim or his family, Police Captain Shella Mae Sangrines, ICPO spokesperson, said Wednesday.
Sangrines said Major Francisco Paguia, Iloilo City Police Station 1 commander, has started their investigation upon learning of the alleged abduction that happened in broad daylight in Rizal Street, near the University of Iloilo-PHINMA campus on March 3, 2020.
It was believed that the abducted man was Anthony William Landicho, 36, a resident of Poblacion, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.
While they did not go to police authorities, Landicho’s relatives told a radio station that he’s the same man who was seen on a viral video being forced by several persons to board a white AUV at around 5:30 p.m.
Before that, a certain Tam claimed men on board the same vehicle also tried to abduct him a few meters away from where Landicho was allegedly snatched.
Landicho had groceries with him when the incident happened. The groceries were allegedly placed at what seemed to be a back-up vehicle, a pick-up with registration plate FAG-1928.
Nothing was heard from the “victim” until around three hours later when a suspected drug peddler was arrested in a buy-bust operation at Sta. Filomena, Arevalo, Iloilo City.
A subsequent report stated that Landicho yielded the P3,000 marked money and two sachets of suspected shabu with a street value of P48,000.
But what happened during the hours that Landicho was supposedly taken by force and the time that he was arrested for an illegal drug offense?
The relatives also questioned what happened to the P20,000 cash Landicho had before the arrest.
The suspect claimed that he was in Iloilo City to process the papers for his father’s wake and to buy some groceries.
Landicho’s father died in Saudi Arabia last January but his remains were not immediately flown to the country.
After the supposed buy-bust operation, the P20,000 and his grocery items also went missing.
The only items that were turned over to the family were P3 cash, tiger-printed shoulder bag, and documents.
There were also apprehensions that he could have been manhandled.
COP OWNED VEHICLE?
Reports later traced the registered owner of the vehicle used in the alleged snatching to a member of the ICPO.
Sangrines said they’re checking if the said personnel, who is allegedly assigned to the ICPO-City Drug Enforcement Unit, is indeed the owner of the vehicle, and if he was with the other persons who committed the alleged abduction.
If CDEU personnel indeed joined the operation, Sangrines said it will raise a question since the ICPO has no recorded police operation on March 3.
“It’s premature for now to conclude. If indeed it was his vehicle that was used as a back-up, on what capacity did he do it?” she said.
Aside from the abduction, a murder case involving motorcycle-riding suspects (MRS) allegedly happened in the city last week.
This prompted Mayor Jerry Treñas to ask Police Colonel Eric Dampal, Iloilo City police chief, to solve the two incidents.
Treñas said the ICPO should use the vehicles given to them for their enhanced police visibility.
“With or without the mayor’s order, we’re acting on the said incidents because that’s our duty,” Sangrines said.
She added that Dampal has ordered that even office vehicles should be used for patrolling purposes.
Even the National Police Commission (Napolcom) already took notice of the case.
Atty. Joseph Celis, NAPOLCOM-6 regional director, said that if ever the individuals who forced the man in the video are indeed members of the RDEU, they could be liable for “serious irregularity in the performance of duty.”
They could also be held criminally responsible.
Celis said that a legitimate anti-narcotics operation involves a peddler, a poseur buyer, or a middle man.
He said that the identity of the subject must also be established.
Late last year, the RDEU also hogged the limelight after they were accused of taking
valuables unrelated to their anti-narcotics operation that happened Dec. 4, 2019.
The complainant, a grade school teacher, was not the anti-drugs operation’s target but her neighbor, Romeo Tribunal.
Arlene Bolivar Braga alleged that RDEU personnel went to her house and scoured the area.
At that time, Braga was not around but her 9-year-old child and a 19-year-old relative were inside the house.
After the team left, a wristwatch, a jewelry box containing items of still unspecified value, and the child’s piggy bank went missing.
In 2018, seven RDEU members were relieved from their post following the controversial raid on the house of the kin of slain Western Visayas drug lord Melvin Odicta, Sr.
The seven policemen were with members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 6 (PDEA-6) when the latter led the conduct of an anti-drug raid at the Regalados’ abode at Barangay Sambag, Jaro, Iloilo City on Dec. 13.
The relief came after the Regalado matriarch accused the raiding team of stealing their valuables.
At around 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 19, 2018, Candelaria Regalado reported to Jaro Police Station that close to P2.5 million worth of valuables went missing from their house during the raid.
She later filed administrative and criminal charges against eight members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and 6 RDEU personnel.
Following the accusations, retired Police Brigadier General John Bulalacao, then Western Visayas police chief, ordered their relief claiming that police units, such as RDEU, should be clean and credible.