MANILA, Philippines - Seven policemen of the Manila City Hall Action and Special Assignment (Masa) are facing complaints of unlawful arrest, serious illegal detention, robbery, graft and corrupt practices for allegedly taking diamonds and cash from a businesswoman.
Named respondents were SPO1 Nicanor Zablan III, PO2 Norman Manalansan, PO2 Christopher Silva, PO2 Christopher Razon, PO1 Joselito Abigan, PO1 Jake Balberde and PO1 Abdul Jabbar Alonto.
The complaints were filed last week in the city prosecutor's office by Rowena Bensing, 35; William Tulabing, 48; Glenn Goboyan, 41; and Hermilie Pinote, 29, residents of Malibay in Pasay City.
Chief Insp. Bernabe Irinco, Masa chief, however, said his men were acting on a complaint of another businesswoman who said she was duped into buying fake diamonds. He said the arrest was carried out in an entrapment operation.
The accused policemen, except Razon who was the case investigator, were relieved.
Bensing said she was told by Goboyan that a wife of a Japanese wanted to see her black diamonds so they agreed to meet on April 2 at a coffee shop in Robinson's Place Manila.
After the woman got hold of the diamond, the latter tried to run away but policemen arrived just in time to arrest her and her companions.
They were brought to the Masa precinct where police confiscated three black diamonds worth P60,000 (S$1,692), three white brillantitos valued at P16,000, and P73,340 in cash. The police also allegedly withdrew P50,000 from Bensing's ATM card before they were released.
Irinco, however, said the incident was "a legitimate operation based on the complaint of a private citizen." He added that Andrea Madrigal, 23, a resident of Tondo, Manila, sought the help of police when she saw on the Internet that Goboyan was selling three black diamonds for P400,000 each.
Madrigal told the police that Goboyan earlier sold her three brillantitos worth P30,000, which turned out to be fake. The police then formed an entrapment team and set up a meeting with Goboyan.
A case of syndicated estafa was filed in the prosecutor's office against Goboyan, Tulabing and Pinote.
Irinco said the prosecutor recommended their release for further investigation on the grounds that the policemen had no proof the diamonds were fake.
On Tuesday, however, the police obtained a certification from a licensed appraiser that the diamonds were not genuine. The document will be filed as supplemental documentary evidence later.
"It's OK if I don't get my money and diamonds back. I just want the policemen involved to go to jail and teach them a lesson," Bensing said.
"When we work, we expect that there will be retaliation," Irinco said.
-With Paolo Arguelles