MANILA, Philippines - Agree to have sex or go to jail.
These were the tough choices that a ranking official of the Southern Police District allegedly gave a nightclub model, one of the bar workers he ordered arrested in a recent SPD raid in Pasay City.
The woman, an unwed mother of five, now accuses Supt. Erwin Emelo of rape - an assault she allegedly suffered right inside Emelo's office and in the presence of a fellow female employee of the Universe Club.
"Leila," the 29-year-old complainant, went to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) assisted by a lawyer on Monday to sue Emelo, who was appointed chief of the SPD's Special Operations Unit just last week. He is also a highly trusted aide of the district director, Chief Supt. Henry Rañola, according to sources.
The woman alleged that Emelo sexually abused her around 2 p.m. on Oct. 23 inside his quarters at the SPD compound in Fort Bonifacio. "The (police) colonel ordered my friend, who was with us inside the room, to turn around while he was raping me. He had his gun placed on a table nearby," she said in a complaint affidavit.
60 held in early-morning raid
Around 2 a.m. or 12 hours earlier, she said, Emelo and his men raided the club and rounded up all 60 employees-including waiters and models like her-for supposedly working "without a permit."
The arrested employees were hauled off to the SPD compound and made to wait near the canteen as the club management rushed to produce their work papers.
Around 3:30 a.m., Emelo approached her, introduced himself as the "chief of the office" and asked for her cell-phone number.
Shortly after Emelo left her, she received a text message from an unknown number, which later turned out to be that of the SPD official. The message asked her to go to his office.
Another policeman then approached and escorted her to the office, where Emelo was waiting. Emelo offered her his sleeping quarters, saying she could take a rest there-but she declined and stayed in the office.
Sensing that she had become uncomfortable, Emelo said she could ask one of her female friends to join her so they can stay in the sleeping quarters together.
The women agreed to stay there while waiting for the SPD to release them. As the hours passed, Emelo repeatedly entered the quarters to check on them-but this time with a new offer to Leila.
"He asked me if I could be his girlfriend and that if I say yes I will not be included in the inquest proceedings. But if I don't, I will also be charged like the other employees of the club."
Around 2 p.m., Emelo allegedly got more assertive and physical. She turned down his advances, telling him that she has five children, but her refusal only angered the official. "He held my hands and forced himself on me after he ordered my friend on the other side of the bed to turn around."
"I tried to fight back but he was strong and, with his gun on the table near the bed, I was scared. My friend and I were crying the whole time he was assaulting me."
When the official was done, they were not immediately allowed to leave the room. "He only unlocked the door and allowed us to leave around 3:30 p.m. after the other employees of the club had left for the Pasay City Hall of Justice for the inquest proceedings," the complainant said.
Leila then went directly to the club and reported the alleged assault to her coworkers, who accompanied her to the office of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame.
She returned to the CIDG two days later, on Oct. 25, to make a formal complaint in the Women's Desk. However, she said, the desk officers on duty did not get her statement right away when they learned that Emelo was the subject of the complaint, despite the fact that she had already undergone a medical examination to support her allegations.
"They asked me to come back the following day for my statement and make sure that I have correctly identified the police official who assaulted me. They said there are two police officials with the last name Emelo, the other one being a captain," she said.
Witnesses in hiding
NBI supervising agent Alan Tubi, who met Leila and her lawyer when they filed the complaint Monday, said the bureau would like to talk to the other bar worker who supposedly witnessed the rape.
"We are trying to get the statement of the witness but she has apparently gone into hiding, fearing for her life." Tubi told the Inquirer.
He said the NBI would also like to hear from three more women who could also shed light on the incident, but they too had reportedly left for the provinces.
Emelo has been relieved of his post, according to Supt. Edgar Danao of the SPD, who met with NBI Assistant Regional Director Vicente de Guzman regarding the rape complaint.
Rañola, the district director, confirmed that "there was news circulating about a supposed rape, so I asked (for an investigation). And it appears there is a basis so I ordered Emelo's relief on Oct. 25."
Senior Supt. Jenny Tecson, secretary to the SPD directorial staff, said Emelo "voluntarily submitted" to the relief order which came just a week after he got appointed chief of Special Operations.
Rañola said Emelo was put in charge of that unit on Oct. 20 after the post was vacated by Chief Insp. Marlon Quimno, who had resumed his schooling.