Manila: The police force is widely regarded as one of the Philippines’ most corrupt institutions, a reputation reinforced by accusations three officers were involved in abducting and killing a South Korean businessman.
“Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances” by police and military forces were the Philippines’ most significant human rights issue, the US State Department said in its annual human rights report in 2015.
Since then police have reported killing 2,250 drug suspects and another 3,710 people killed in unexplained circumstances as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial drug war.
Three policemen abducted the South Korean businessman last year when they went to his house on the pretext of a raid on illegal drugs, then killed him the same day but claimed he was still alive to extort money from his wife, authorities said.
Here are some of other notorious cases of recent years:
In July last year, newly elected President Duterte accused five police generals — two retired and three in active service — of being part of the country’s illegal drugs trade.
All five denied involvement, but the three active-duty officers were removed from key posts, though none of them has been charged in court.
Drug set up
A judge dismissed a case in October last year against an Australian man accused by police of drug trafficking. Police had claimed the man was arrested in a raid on a Manila street with ecstasy tablets.
But CCTV footage presented to the court showed police had hauled him out of his hotel room. The judge dismissed the case after ruling the police officers had fabricated evidence and their testimonies had no “integrity”.
Two gunmen on a motorcycle killed a female anti-crime activist outside her home on the central island of Mindoro in October last year but were then wounded in a gunfight with police and arrested.
The assailants turned out to police officers, one of them a police chief of a neighbouring town. Police said the two would be charged with murder.
Wheel of torture
Ten police officers were sacked in 2013 for running a secret prison in a safe house near Manila where jailers wearing wigs and masks spun a roulette wheel to pick among a list of tortures to be meted out against inmates.
The tortures included a 20-second beat down, electric shocks and hanging inmates upside down like a bat for 30 seconds. The government’s Human Rights Commission exposed their activities.
In 2010 a video went viral on social media showing a naked man at a central Manila police station screaming in pain as the precinct chief whipped him and yanked a rope that appeared to be tied to the victim’s penis.
The police chief was sacked.
Sixty-five police and military officers were among nearly 200 people charged for participating in the Philippines’ worst political massacre in 2009, when a prominent Muslim clan organised the ambush of a convoy of its political rival and accompanying journalists. Fifty-eight people were killed.
The officers allegedly took part in the attack to stop a rival of the Muslim clan from filing his election candidacy for provincial governor. Their trial is ongoing.
A policeman was charged in 2015 over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping-for-ransom by Islamist militants of an Australian man, Warren Rodwell, in the southern Philippines.
Rodwell was held for 15 months and released after a ransom was paid. Rodwell then identified the policeman as the negotiator for the Islamic militants.
Nine senior Philippine police officials, including the comptroller in charge of the force’s budget at the time, were briefly held at a Moscow airport in 2008 for carrying €105,000 euros (about Dh412,165 or $112,000) while on their way to an Interpol conference in another Russian city.
The Ombudsman, the government’s special anti-graft prosecutor, filed graft charges against the officials in 2013 for the alleged misuse of police intelligence funds for their travel expenses. The case is ongoing.