WHILE their superiors in Camp Crame are busy trying to protect the citizenry from the scourge of the coronavirus, some policemen are accused of going about abusing some citizens in the name of enforcing the law.
My “Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo” office, a private ombudsman, received complaints alleging that Lt. Renato Florentino, chief of the warrant section at the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), had been sexually harassing female detainees at the section’s jail.
Florentino has been removed from that post as of Monday, March 29, and placed on floating status after I referred the complaints to his superiors at Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Florentino was accused of being a “sex pervert” and “psychologically impaired” by a former detainee.
Other detainees, who are still in jail, said they would testify against Florentino if given protection.
What did Florentino do?
According to the complaints referred to the PNP headquarters, he would “invite” young and pretty detainees to his office.
Behind closed doors, Florentino would then allegedly direct the women to perform lascivious acts.
Some of the detainees were allegedly raped by the police lieutenant.
A newly arrived detainee, for example, reportedly became hysterical after coming out of Florentino’s office.
She was in shock and became reclusive, not wanting to talk to fellow detainees.
Another female detainee claimed that she was made to take off her clothes and dance before Florentino while he molested her.
How did I get to know about Florentino’s allegedly lurid acts?
I visited a businesswoman-friend who was arrested by the police on a court-issued warrant for failing to attend court hearings.
Her criminal case, she said, stemmed from her acting as a guarantor for a friend in a bank transaction where her friend dishonored the deal and left her holding the bag.
Anyway, this friend — let’s call her “Malou” — interacted with fellow detainees in her two-day stay in the warrant section jail. She was able to get a handful of information about Florentino’s abominable deeds.
She gave me the telephone numbers of fellow detainees who had been released after filing bail.
Malou herself was warned by fellow detainees not to accept any invitation from Florentino as she might suffer a similar fate.
Malou was told that she would be safer inside the cell than in a room reserved for VIP detainees while their bail is being filed.
Florentino might stalk her in the room, she was warned.
“I wonder, Mon, why Florentino’s shenanigans were not exposed by his subordinates. They knew what was going on — like the hysterical woman after coming from his office — and yet they kept quiet,” said Malou.
I tried reaching Florentino by phone to get his side, but he would put down the phone every time.
Methinks that Florentino’s subordinates should also be relieved and investigated for not telling on him.
Now that Florentino has been relieved, perhaps the PNP might want to investigate former and current detainees at the QCPD warrant section jail.
If this columnist was able to obtain the names of the detainees who had an axe to grind against Florentino, why can’t the expert investigators do it?
Another former detainee that I interviewed is a domestic helper who was arrested by Quezon City cops who raided a house where illegal gambling was going on.
Grace (family name deliberately omitted) said she was just watching pusoy (Russian poker) in the house and was not a player, but the raiders arrested her anyway.
Grace said the P20,000 inside her bag, which was for her son’s school needs, was taken by the raiders and was not returned when she was released after filing bail for illegal gambling.
“Naka-jackpot tayo dito (We hit the jackpot here),” Grace quoted one of her captors as saying.
Her charge sheet says that her captors were Staff Sergeants Jeremiah Basinga and Joseph Sumilang, and Corporals Alvin Sarmiento and Jesson Nabua.
From what Grace told me, the cops who raided the Quezon City house did not have a search warrant.
Their chief, Maj. Elmer Monsalve, justified the warrantless arrest by saying the players were caught in flagrante delicto (caught red handed).
But the gambling was taking place inside a room in the house which the police barged into.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t policemen supposed to have a warrant when raiding a private abode?
The gamblers were not caught playing in public; they were caught in the privacy of a home.
I’m not a lawyer but my long experience as a police reporter tells me the raid was illegal.
My father, a Philippine Constabulary captain, was assigned in Tacloban City in the mid-1960s and became a nemesis of illegal gambling in the city.
But whenever my dad and his men planned raids on houses where illegal gambling was taking place, they had to secure warrants from the courts.
I wonder why the Quezon City inquest prosecutor, who reviewed the illegal gambling case, failed to see that there was no warrant and therefore the raid was illegal?