By MYLAH REYES-ROQUE
TWO of seven Manila cops implicated in the torture of a theft suspect through a video leaked online have surrendered and are detained at the Manila City jail.
Senior Police Officer 1 Rodolfo Ong Jr. and Police Officer 1 Rex Binayug pleaded not guilty on April 18 before Manila Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag. Their co-accused, including Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug, the principal accused, are at large.
Following reports that Joselito Binayug is missing, the Philippine College of Criminology-Manila Law College confirmed that the senior inspector is no longer teaching in their school.
The four other policemen accused of violating Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 are Superintendent Rogelio Rosales Jr., SPO3 Joaquin de Guzman, SPO1 Dante Bautista and PO1 Nonito Binayug. Rex Binayug is a cousin of Joselito and Nonito Binayug, who are brothers.
Margie Evangelista, wife of Darius who is presumed to be the man being tortured in the video, expressed shock that she saw two of the accused policemen being arraigned. “Akala ko imposibleng mangyari (I thought it would never happen),” she said.
State Prosecutor Philip Kimpo and private prosecutor Gilbert Andres described the development as a moral victory for one of the first test cases for the new torture law.
In open court, Alisuag was overheard telling the group of lawyers led by Norman Versoza to produce the rest of the accused before the court, adding “baka hindi naman kayo sigurado na may evidence si fiscal (you can’t be certain that the prosecutor has the evidence).”
She was also overheard noting that both Joselito and his lawyer were absent.
Kimpo said Ong and Rex Binayug did the right thing by facing the charges in court.
“Torture is nonbailable, but I challenge them and those who are missing, to prove that the prosecution’s evidence is weak. It is not unheard of that the accused can get bail if the evidence is not strong enough,” he said.
The police’s Task Force Asuncion has identified Joselito Binayug as the man in the torture video. Its recommendation was adopted by the Justice Department and the Philippine National Police, with then NCR Police Director Nicanor Bartolome, affirming that the footage speaks for itself.
“The unnamed police official seen on the video footage aired by the ABS-CBN on August 17, 2010, where an unidentified naked male person was lying on the cement floor of a Police Community Precinct (PCP) with a string attached to his private organ being pulled and whipped simultaneously by another male person, was respondent PSINSP Binayug,” he said.
According to Ramil G. Gabao, dean of the Philippine College of Criminology-Manila Law College, the school’s Board of Trustees “decided not to renew Binayug’s appointment as a part-time instructor due to the controversy attached to his employment.”
Binayug taught Crime Detection Investigation in the privately run school last year. Human Rights Commissioner Loretta Ann Rosales, who was assisting Evangelista’s wife Margie, looked further into the matter and sought clarification from the Professional Regulation Commission.
According to the PRC, it appears that Binayug should not have been allowed to teach the course at all.
An Aug. 3 certification issued by Perla D. Sayana, chief of the PRC’s Registration Division, said, “The name Joselito Binayug does not appear in the database of Criminologist which contains the names of those duly authorized to practice criminology in the Philippines.”
During the arraignment, it became apparent that aside from being a test case for the torture law, the case foreshadows the conflict between the National Bureau of Investigation and the Manila Police District, the cops’ home agency.
Kimpo asked the judge to direct the NBI to serve the warrant on the five missing policemen. He said the judge told him to put the request in writing.
Alisuag is one of several candidates who have been interviewed by the Judicial and Bar Council for three upcoming vacancies at the Court of Appeals.