By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
A policeman from Catanduanes, who resigned after claiming that some policemen were allegedly being paid to kill drug suspects, has recanted his statement, said Sen. Panfilo Lacson last October 2.
Lacson, chair of the Senate public order committee investigating the recent killing of young victims in the government’s war against illegal drugs, said former Police Officer I Vincent Tacorda was invited to the hearing in connection with his affidavit dated May 10 but opted not to attend.
He claimed in his affidavit the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) of drug suspects and planting of evidence of policemen. He said he was ordered to deliver an “accomplishment of five to 10 deaths of drug suspects.”
“Because of the pressure to deliver, I acceded and requested for a list from which I can choose from. I was however not given such list. But I got a call and text from Police Senior Inspector Nathaniel Jacob, the Chief of Police of Viga, Catanduanes, informing me that there is already a go signal from the Provincial Director. We met at the Kemji Hotel and Restaurant and I was given the name of my first target,” Tacorda further said in his affidavit.
During the hearing, Lacson read a portion of Tacorda’s letter dated July 3, which read: “I have done some serious soul searching and I have to come to realize that I love my organization.”
“I continue to hold it and its ranks in the highest respect despite some sad experiences I went through, which changed my heart, (that) I had expounded in an affidavit of recantation on 29 June,” Lacson read.
Despite the recantation, Lacson asked the Philippine National Police to produce Tacorda and present him in the next hearing of the Committee.
“Be that as it may, I’m instructing the PNP to produce Mr. Tacorda, PO1 Tacorda to appear in the next hearing so we can hear from him directly what’s the truth in his testimony…” said Lacson.
Tacorda resigned from the police service last April. He said he can no longer stomach the illegal activities in the police force.
He remembered his superior ordered him to kill a drug suspect since Catanduanes PNP is lagging behind the campaign against illegal drugs. He was given a PHP 800 budget for food and lodging, a picture of the target, and a folder with “pusher ako, huwag tularan…Bicol vigilante.”
When he located the target, Tacorda said he tried to fire his gun but it “got jammed” and the target survived.
“Hence, I just threw the folder on him and rushed back to the waiting motorcycle and left the scene. I was then wearing a helmet and a jacket so that nobody can recognize me.”
During those times, Tacorda said he was the “shooter” when he was given an assignment.
PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said Tacorda also withdrew his resignation letter saying he does not want to resign.
He also revealed that Tacorda is facing charges in the slaying of a journalist who exposed the raid of a shabu laboratory in Catanduanes.
Tacorda’s affidavit was presented by Sen. Antonio Trillanes in one of the committee hearings.
Trillanes said he expected the recantation. He believes the police officer could have been harrassed, threatened or pressured into changing his statement.
“But we have all the audio recordings of his conversation with his police officers giving him orders to kill drug suspects,” said Trillanes. He also said Tacorda voluntarily gave his initial affidavit.
In the same hearing, taxi driver Tomas Bagcal and a certain Joe Daniel testified that 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz was kneeling and handcuffed when he was allegedly shot dead by two policemen.
The two witnesses positively identified Police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez and Ricky Arquilita as the killers last August 18.
Responding to Sen. Grace Poe, Bagcal said Arnaiz was kneeling with both his hands raised up when he was shot by policemen.
Joe Daniel, who was near the place where Arnaiz was shot, said he saw the victim on his knees while being shot by the two policemen.
“I saw the face of the man. I felt compassion for him. He ran to the grassy lot and he was on his knees and in handcuffs when shot,” recalled Joe Daniel whose face was partly covered when he showed up at the hearing.
When confronted by Lacson as to why he did not mention in his affidavit some of his testimonies in the hearing, the witness said he was afraid. He said the person who took him said he will be detained in the Senate if he became a witness.