So the mysterious EDSA “gun poking incident” is finally solved. The incident which was caught on camera and went viral over social media involved eight police officers from the La Loma Police Station in Quezon City. The Inquirer reports…
Arrested were commissioned Quezon City Police District (QCPD) officers Chief Inspector Joseph de Vera and Senior Inspector Oliver Villanueva. Both are assigned at La Loma Police Station 1.
While two have been arrested, their colleagues at La Loma, including SPO1 Ramil Hachero, PO1 Mark de Paz, PO2 Ebonn Decatoria, PO2 Jerome Datinguinoo and POE Weavin Masa remain at large with another QCPD police PO2 Jonathan Rodriguez.
One of the still missing suspects is Senior Inspector Marco Polo Estrera. He was dismissed from police service in 2006.
Police said cases of brigandage and kidnapping with serious illegal detention were filed on Monday against the eight suspects.
Most astounding of all, the kidnap victims were held captive locked up at the La Loma Police Station itself!
Even in the early days when the photo emerged on Twitter on the 1st of September, many netizens who viewed it agreed that the people in the photo looked like police officers. One had handcuffs dangling from his belt. But there were doubts early on that this was a legitimate police operation as none of the law enforcement agencies that responded to the tweets in which they were tagged could confirm any knowledge of any such operation consistent with what the photo showed.
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Get Real Post had originally published the story the following day complete with the name of the Twitter user who had originally taken and tweeted the photo. The names were then removed from the story upon request of that Twitter user who claimed in emails sent to us that she had been receiving threats against her life.
The speed with which the case was “solved” is one of the remarkable features of this incident. It raises the question of how this story would have ended if no such photo had gone viral and attracted the attention of no less than Senator JV Ejercito among others. Indeed, the incident had become so high-profile thanks to that stroke of luck that Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas himself gave an update on the investigation this morning.
The more important question, however, is this:
How many such incidents occur and do not attract as much attention and as speedy an investigation as this one?
The brazenness with which this abduction was carried out — in broad daylight on a busy Metro Manila thoroughfare — is noteworthy. As mentioned earlier, police premises were even used to hold the victims captive. Most disturbing of all, the Twitter user who took the photo and posted it on Twitter was scared out of her wits — quite unlikely to ever get herself involved in something like this again.
Considering that there is a move in Philippine Congress to pass a law banning the taking of photos of people without their consent even in public, things don’t look too promising for this sort of citizen journalism. Dubbed the “Anti-Selfie Bill”, House Bill 4807 or the “Protection against Personal Intrusion Act” is reportedly “now up for 3rd reading in plenary.”
According to HB 4807, the following acts are considered an intrusion into the personal privacy of another and shall be presumed to have been committed with the intent to gain or profit.
-capturing by a camera or sound recording instrument of any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of the person
-trespassing on private property in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of any person
-capturing any type of visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of a person or family activity through the use of a visual or auditory enhancement device even when no physical trespass has occurred, when the visual image, sound recording or other physical impression could not have been captured without a trespass if no enhancement device was used.
The bill is widely-criticised as a threat to press freedom and is likely to have journalists as its specific intended target.
Indeed, it seems nothing will be stopping the growing crime outbreak currently gripping the Philippines. With both social media users and journalists increasingly cowed by both the impunity with which criminals could issue threats against their lives, an increasingly anti-paparazzi law such as that proposed in HB 4807, and a police force that only moves when put in the spotlight, it looks like we may have won this battle but are losing the bigger war against crime.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.