I am wont to be afraid of any policeman, any man in uniform in fact, probably owing to the years I went to rallies and felt absolutely no sense of security seeing a line of law enforcers with shields and truncheons. Media doesn’t help any, when the policemen we hear speaking on television are far from sounding credible about capturing criminals or solving cases. We know of the kind of macho membership the squads maintain, how codes of silence sustain them.
A rarity is the policeman who speaks with certainty about the issue at hand, and raises questions about the institution he is part of. In this case it is Senior Superintendent Conrad Capa.
Businessman Delfin Lee had been a fugitive since 2012, running from a P6.6 billion peso syndicated estafa case. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) gave the hunt a go for two years, but failed to capture Lee. The pursuit was transferred to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Task Force Tugis. Tugsis captured Lee after “a few months” with “not just luck, but hard work and vigorous police work,” says its head Supt. Capa.
There is no doubt in my mind that Lee has to face this growing number of cases against him as president of Globe Asiatique. Since his arrest for what might be considered a housing scam in Xevera Homes in Mabalacat Pampanga, questionable practices in the other housing development projects of Globe Asiatique have made the news. Homeowners of GA Tower in Mandaluyong City, Sta. Barbara Villas in San Mateo, St. Monique Valais in Binangonan Rizal, and New Sta. Rosa Homes in Sta. Rosa Laguna have the same stories to tell about buying and paying for property from Lee and ending with nothing. This is as big a fish as they come.
Lee’s capture, this one that was about “vigorous police work,” is the story as well of Supt. Capa. Hearing him speak on nationwide television, it is difficult not to find this man credible. He is selfassured and confident, and speaks in an even tone about the whys and wherefores of capturing Lee. He dismisses Lee’s camp’s insistence that the warrant they used to arrest him was already quashed and invalidated; he insists that this capture was part of the mandate of Task Force Tugis.
Which is to say that this was a task force with the responsibility of and goal to capture The Big Five fugitives of our time. Now that Lee’s been taken off that list, there are four more to go: Palawan governor Joel Reyes, former Coron mayor Mario Reyes, Jovito Palparan, and former Dinagat Representative Ruben Ecleo.
With Supt. Capa removed from Task Force Tugis, though, one wonders how credible the next captures will be, if any?
Transferring the hero
Anyone who followed this story would expect a promotion for Supt. Capa. After all, capturing the Big Five is the goal of his task force, and capturing one in less than a year can only be a notable achievement.
But instead of celebrating his feat and giving him a promotion, the bosses of the man who caught Lee have demoralized him. He has been moved from the Manilabased Task Force Tugis to the Cebu PNP branch. PNP Chief Director General Alan Purisima called this a promotion, a reward for Supt. Capa. On March 14, Malacañang via Spokesperson Abigail Valte explained away the transfer of Supt. Capa as well, echoing Gen. Purisima’s assertion of a promotion. And then throws a surprise our way.
That is, according to Valte, Supt. Capa’s promotion was supposed to be a surprise, and a surprise event was being planned to announce it, as well as to announce his “eventual transfer.” The conclusion was that there was no need to be suspicious of this transfer: “As to the timing… I would not see anything behind the Chief PNP’s decision,” Valte said.
Yet anyone with half a brain would know that being removed as head of Task Force Tugis, right after you capture one of the Big Five fugitives in this country, is highly irregular and absolutely suspicious. Because there’s nothing normal about proving that you can do your job—and do it incredibly well—and then be removed from your post. I can’t even imagine why someone like Supt. Capa would be removed from Task Force Tugis when having captured Lee, he has proven the other four captures possible.
Alas, none of that is enough for the PNP leadership or this government. At least not enough to keep Supt. Capa where he’s at and give him a real promotion too.
Capture is all
It has since been revealed that Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali had called PNP Chief Purisima to “clarify the basis of Lee’s arrest.” He did so because Lee’s legal counsel Gilbert Repizo asked him to, owing to his belief that the arrest warrant had already been quashed.
But it is not so much that an administration ally official had asked the PNP about Lee’s arrest that is worrisome. What is disconcerting is the fact that Lee’s legal counsel had such a connection within government, and a government official like Umali did not think it problematic at all that he was asking about the arrest himself.
What else is going on behind the scenes, one wonders. And who else was in on Supt.
The President defends Umali’s actions by refusing to answer questions about it:
“Perhaps, we should just thank [the police].” .… “As I say, the right answer to that is, ‘Where is Mr. Lee now?’ Arrested. So who blocked his arrest? Isn’t it that if someone influential, someone occupying a high position intervened, he would not have been arrested. But he was and he’s now in jail, right?”
Well yes, but capture cannot be the endall and beall. Especially not when the same man who captured big fish number one is removed from his post, especially when he is transferred to a far away popsting. To focus on the capture is to focus on making sure the bad guys pay, and that’s well and good. But to forget to reward the good guys can mean losing them altogether.
Only the bad guys would love that.