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'Torture cops' face raps; Binayug named prime suspect

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday filed charges against nine policemen who were implicated in the the alleged torture of a suspected thief at the Asuncion, Tondo, Manila police precinct. Chief Superintendent Roberto Rongavilla, NCRPO Deputy Regional Director for Administration, said the charges against the nine policemen, accused of violating the "Anti-Torture Act of 2009," were filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ). According to Rongavilla, the primary suspect is Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug, chief of the Asuncion Police Community Precinct (PCP), who allegedly committed the acts of torture as seen on a video made public last week. "(The violation) of the Anti-Torture Act was allegedly committed because of the maltreatment of a robbery suspect," said Rongavilla, who also heads the "Task Force Asuncion" investigating the incident. The video footage aired last week showed a naked man lying on the floor in a fetal position. The naked man, a suspected thief detained at the Tondo police station, was seen twitching every time another man seated next to him, allegedly Binayug, pulled a string attached to the victim's body. On Monday, Rongavilla named the victim as Darius Evangelista, who was allegedly tortured at the Asuncion PCP on March 5. He remains missing as of today. The Asuncion PCP is under the supervision of the Manila Police District Station 2. Thus, its station commander, Superintendent Ernesto Tendero Jr., was also listed as an accused due to command responsibility. Tendero is also Binayug's direct boss. Before Evangelista was brought to the Asuncion PCP, he was first taken to the MPD Station 11, where he was allegedly tortured as well. Thus, station commander Superintendent Rogelio Rosales Jr. is also named as a suspect due to command responsibility. The other policemen listed on the charge sheet are the following: SPO3 Joaquin de Guzman, PO1 Rodolfo Ong, SPO1 Burt Tupas, SPO1 Dante Bautista, PO1 Nonito Binayug, and PO1 Rex Binayug. Rongavilla said the nine policemen, as well as two others whom he did not identify ,are placed under restrictive suspension. As of posting time, the 11 policemen are underoing a neuro-psychiatry and drug tests at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City. Murder charges? Citing the sworn affidavits of witnesses, Rongavilla said the torture incident happened on March 5 at the Asuncion PCP. Evangelista's wife, hidden under the pseudonym "Anna," was among those who identified Evangelista as the torture victim on the video. "Darius (Evangelista) was identified by her wife, relatives, and other witnesses. Binayug was identified (as the suspect) by witnesses," said Rongavilla. If proven that Evangelista is killed, murder charges will be filed against those found liable. "In the event that Evangelista is determined to have been killed, we will file murder charges," said Rongavilla. Senior Superintendent Pedro Cabatingan, head of the PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Metro Manila, said they are still looking for Evangelista's body. He said "Anna" went to local funeral parlor on March 30 and claimed the skull was her husband's. However, the funeral parlor refused to give the skull because Anna could not provide a proof that it belonged to her husband. Cabatingan added that the bones, which the funeral parlor reportedly buried already on August 5, will be subject to the forensic investigation by the PNP. "Ipapa-DNA test namin ito," said Cabatingan. –VVP, GMANews.TV