THE Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared a police officer who was charged and dismissed along with several others in connection with the allegedly unlawful arrest and torture of a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in 2006.
In a 12-page decision penned by Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid and concurred in by Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Ramon Cruz, the CA’s Fifth Division absolved Police Senior Inspector Dante Yang from criminal liability and is deemed entitled to retirement benefits after his appeal was granted.
“The decision dated January 20, 2012 and the order dated May 16, 2012 of the Office of the Ombudsman are reversed and set aside,” the ruling, dated July 24, 2014, stated.
The case stemmed from and administrative complaint filed by one Allan Almoite against Yang, Supt. Roger James Brillantes, Police Officer 3 Noel Fabia, PO3 Peter Paul Pablico and PO2 Reynaldo Yap, all members of the District Intelligence and Investigation Division (DIID) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Almoite filed the complaint in relation to his allegedly illegal arrest and detention pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City (Metro Manila) against various individuals and John Does, including a certain “Ali” in the case against ASG head Galib Andang a.k.a. Commander Robot. These criminal cases were filed for 21 counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom in connection with the April 2000 Sipadan(Malaysia) kidnapping involving ASG members.
He alleged that Yang’s group barged into his house on March 10, 2006, searching for a certain “Alih” or “Ali Ambing.”
Almoite accused the police of destroying his personal effects and taking his money (P60,000).
He claimed that he was tortured and was forced to admit the crime.
On January 20, 2012, the Ombudsman rendered its decision finding all the police officers guilty of grave misconduct and meted them the penalty of penalty of dismissal from the service with cancelation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from re-employment in the government service.
Yang went to the appellae court when his appeal was dismissed by the anti-graft office, alleging that the Ombudsman gravely abused his discretion when he slapped them with dismissal from the service.
On the alleged torture that Almoite suffered in the hands of the operations team, the CA found that the complainant did not specifically or positively identify Yang as among those who actually tortured him.
“[M]ere allegations of irregularity, such as torture, is insufficient to rebut the presumption that the police officers regularly performed their duties,” the court said.