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Garma threatens charge vs Tomas, Mary Ann for disregard of a police checkpoint

By: Gerard Vincent Francisco April 29,2019 - 02:26 PM

A photo grab from a video recording of the confrontation between Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos and personnel from the City Highway Patrol Group in a police checkpoint in Barangay Kasambagan, Sunday night ./ Photo from Osmeña’s FB page

CEBU CITY, Philippines —For their disregard of a police checkpoint, Cebu City Police Director Royina Garma said they are now studying the possibility of filing appropriate charges against Mayor Tomas Osmeña and his vice mayoral candidate and incumbent councilor Mary Ann delos Santos.

Garma said that a convoy of three vehicles boarded by Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) candidates ignored a police checkpoint in Barangay Kasambagan Sunday night, April 28, 2019, which prompted policemen from the City Highway Patrol Group (CHPG), who were manning the checkpoint, to chase them.

When the vehicles stopped a few meters away, it was only then that CHPG police found out that BOPK candidates in the May 13, 2019 elections where onboard the three vehicles.

Delos Santos was the first to disembark from one of the vehicles, followed by Osmeña.

“Harassment iyong ginagawa nila. Kung ako pa to, giposasan nako sila. Kinulong ko na sila. Checkpoint yan eh. Bakit hindi sila mag stop?” Garma said.

(What they did was plain and simple harassment. If I were there, I could have handcuffed them. I could have sent them to jail. That was a checkpoint. Why didn’t they stop?)

“Naka lagay na stop because there is (a) checkpoint [but they did not]. They felt that they are above the law or they own the law, or they own the land, or they own the city.”

(A signage was placed in the area to ask motorists to stop because there was a checkpoint.)

Garma said that policemen did not even know who they were dealing with until those onboard the vehicles disembarked.

“Malay ba namin kung sino ‘yon, so hinabol ng police syempre. Pag habol mga candidates pala ang laman,” Garma added.

She also accused Osmeña’s group of trying to intimidate CHPG police when they started asking who was in-charge.

A video footage—close to five minutes long— of the checkpoint that was recorded by a BOPK supporter showed Delos Santos arguing with the CHPG team leader with Osmeña standing beside her.

The unidentified policeman told Delos Santos said that one of their companions, who was driving a motorcycle, was issued with a citation ticket for violation of Republic act 4136 or “An Act to Compile the Laws Relative to Land Transportation and Traffic Rules, Create a Land Transportation Commission and for other purposes.”

The policeman said that the driver violated said law for disregarding a checkpoint sign.

“We are having Comelec checkpoint mayor and we coordinated with the Comelec,” the policemen said.

Delos Santos asked why her supporter was flagged down when other motorists who also passed by the area were not called to stop.

“Ayaw lang kuhaa imong gun,” Delos Santos told the policeman.

“Because he has a bulk and he resisted with me,” the policemen replied.

“You were trying to intimidate by getting a gun,” Delos retorted.

Osmeña started to intervene and question why the checkpoint was made in a dimly lit area.

“(A) checkpoint is supposed to be done in a well lighted area.. you already violated that,” Osmeña said.

The BOPK supporter’s video recording showed that the confrontation happened in an area where there was a lamppost. But the signage for the police checkpoint was placed in a dimly lit area located a few meters away.

After the encounter, Osmeña instructed all their supporters to again board their vehicles and leave.

“Are you going to stop him? Are you going to stop him?” he asked the CHPG team leader who already kept mum.

Garma said in her press conference on Monday morning, April 29, 2019, that she is trying to secure an authentic CCTV footage of the confrontation to identify the persons involved.

She said that since the area was dark, the faces of those talking in the footage were unclear.

“Now that we are initiating the investigation, hihingi talaga ako ng original copy ng CCTV ‘coz hindi ko talaga makita ang mukha ng mga tao doon,” she said.

(I will ask for an original copy of the CCTV ‘coz I really can’t see the faces of the people there.)

Garma said that recordings circulated by BOPK supporters to accuse police of harassment cannot also be used as an evidence against them.

“That CCTV footage has no evidential value. It’s pure chismis (gossip) and it will not even stand in any court, be it administrator of criminal or even civil in that matter.”

“Dito tingnan natin. Asan ang ebedensya? This is a very serious allegation and even the image of the Cebu City Police Office will be affected,” Garma added. (Here, let’s see. Where’s the evidence?) /bjo

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