Police orders relief of K9 officers who searched NGO building without warrant

Nov. 15, 2019

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Two police officers belonging to the K9 unit who searched the premises of a non-governmental organization’s facility without permission Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 13) have already been relieved of their duty while on investigation, a ranking police official said Thursday.

According to the post of Charlito Manlupig on Facebook, law enforcers entered the premises of Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI) then checked the bags belonging to the participants of a training on handling trauma from Marawi City.

Manlupig said the officers from the K9 unit, on board a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) vehicle, went inside the BMFI building and left shorty without introducing themselves or showing any permit.

Maj. Alexy Sonido, commander of the City Mobile Force Company, said he has already relieved the officers, who were instructed to explain the incident in writing.

The K9, SWAT, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal units are also under Sonido’s command.

Relieved were Master Sgt. Faith Michael Cajelo and Cpl. Boyet Alupit, Sonido said. Alupit is the handler of the police-trained dog, while Cajelo is the driver and team leader.

Immediately after being informed of the incident, Sonido said he called the two officers and told them to put their explanation in writing and submit it to his office within 24 hours.

“I told them that they committed a mistake. They have apologized for it and are ready to face any complaint,” Sonido said Thursday.

“I cannot blame them (BMFI) for complaining. There is no excuse for such action,” he added.

Earlier, Maj. Evan Viñas, city police spokesperson, said in an interview that the K9 officers were just following instruction from the Philippine National Police regional headquarters.

Viñas said there was a request to secure BMFI for the arrival of an official from the Australian Embassy, although Manlupig has clarified that they were not expecting any foreign dignitary to visit Balay Mindanaw on Wednesday.

Manlupig said there was no schedule of such visit by an Australian diplomat.

“Is Balay Mindanaw now considered a security threat? An enemy? Is there a deeper reason for the illegal search and trespassing?” he added.

Viñas said their intentions are good “as our police were just securing the place,” but, he added, “we admit there have been lapses and we already issued a memorandum to the police involved to clarify their actions.”

“Balay Mindanaw is our partner in peace building. This is just pure miscommunication,” he added.

Meanwhile, 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez reminded law enforcement agents to observe protocol when entering civilian establishments.

“No private premises shall be entered without a search warrant duly issued by a competent Court,” the lawmaker said.

Rodriguez said: “The right against unreasonable search and seizure is guaranteed by the bill of rights under our Constitution. These PNP personnel will be criminally liable. This should not be repeated.” (davaotoday.com)

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