DAGUPAN CITY: A nongovernment organization has urged Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar to remove or transfer the provincial director of the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and two of his men who are facing criminal and administrative offenses after allegedly torturing and threatening to kill during a raid a caretaker of a house owned by a former policeman.

Prof. Salvador Singson-de Guzman, who heads the Citizens Movement Against Corruption, Crime, Illegal Drugs and Gambling Inc., on Wednesday identified the respondents as LtCol. Barnaouli Abalos, CIDG Pangasinan chief, Sgt. Arturo Lavarias and MSg. Roosevelt de Vera, all assigned at the provincial office of the CIDG in Lingayen.

“The three police officers derailed Gen. Eleazar’s campaign to cleanse the PNP ranks of abusive members. We are asking the general to remove or transfer the officers so that they would not be able to use their power to intimidate witnesses to the incident,” Singson-de Guzman said in English and Filipino.

On August 13, criminal charges for torture under Republic Act 9745 or the “Anti-Torture Law,” grave threats and grave coercion were filed against Abalos, Lavarias and de Vera before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Lingayen, Pangasinan, by Reymart Sevillena, 33 years old and a resident of Barangay Siwasiw in Sual town.

Administrative charges for grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming police officers were also filed by Sevillena against Abalos, Lavarias and de Vera on August 20 before the office of the National Police Commission in Region 1.

A copy of the case documents was obtained by The Manila Times.

Sevillena, in his sworn statement prepared by his lawyer, claimed that at dawn on July 27, the house of his employer Leeward Caburao in Barangay Caoayan in Sual was raided by seven armed CIDG operatives led by Abalos.

He said he was awakened after he heard that the door of the house was being forcibly opened by the armed men who entered without permission from the owner of the house and introduced themselves as CIDG agents.

When Abalos, according to Sevillena, asked him if he was Leeward Caburao, he answered no and asked the lieutenant colonel why he and his men entered the house without permission.

He was punched in the stomach by Abalos each time he said he was not Caburao.

Sevillena said the CIDG Pangasinan chief also asked where the guns of Caburao were and he answered that the latter did not have any firearms.

Abalos then handcuffed the caretaker.

Sevillena said Sergeant Lavarias ordered him to sit down on a chair and after he did, the police sergeant dropped a gun on his lap and forced him to hold it.

According to him, he refused and told Lavarias that he did not know how to use a gun.

While begging for his release, Sevillena said, Master Sgt. de Vera kicked him, hitting him in the back until he fell to the ground.

The CIDG operatives stopped hurting Sevillena when Leeward appeared before them.

The victim sustained multiple injuries in different parts of the body, according to a medico-legal certificate issued by Dr. Jose Nody of Region 1 Medical Center.

His statements were corroborated by witness D-Jay Cantillo, 17 years old and a resident of Barangay Caoayan.

Caburao said his lawyer is also preparing criminal and administrative charges against Abalos and his men for serving a search warrant, which, he added, was maliciously obtained.

In an interview with The Manila Times, he said he will also file criminal charges for perjury against the three police officers.

Caburao added that he believes that the CIDG operatives were being used by a politician in their town who wants to destroy his credibility after he openly threw his support behind another politician who plans to run for Sual mayor in the 2022 elections.

The CIDG operatives said the raid that they conducted was legitimate and in accordance with law because they only implemented a search warrant issued by a court.

Abalos, Lavarias and de Vera denied the allegations made by Sevillena.

“We are willing to be investigated and we are ready to answer any criminal and administrative charges filed against us by the alleged victim,” Abalos and his men told this writer.

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