Press Release
October 7, 2008

Kiko questions 'defeaning silence' of new PNP Chief on disappearance of Batasan blast witness

Senate Majority Leader and independent senator Kiko Pangilinan today questioned the "conspicuous silence" of Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Jesus Verzosa on the disappearance of Batasan blast witness Ikram Indama last Monday.

"We have so far only heard from Chief Superintendent Raul Castañeda and Senior Superintendent Asher of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) as well as Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez. So,where is the new PNP chief who has been so visible in the headlines since he was sworn into office? The PNP website's most current news releases describe Versoza's tough stance on sanctions against two Cavite policemen firing at each other and his support of environment-friendly programs such as the PNP coastal-cleanup drive. But why is he mum about such an important issue which happened in his own backyard?," says Kiko.

Indama was placed under police custody by the Department of Justice in July. The protection order, expiring this Friday, was meant to ensure his testimony about the November 2007 Batasan Pambansa driveway bombing. Several people were wounded and killed in the blast including Congressman Wahab Akbar who was believed to be the target. The key witness to the crime mysteriously disappeared from the CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame at 6 am of Oct. 6. Senior Superintendent Erickson Velasquez, the new director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Division (CIDD), immediately went on a 10-day leave to make way for an impartial probe.

"That we have heard nothing from the PNP Chief about the unexplained disappearance of a state witness is already suspicious. It becomes even more suspicious when we recall that Versoza did something similar to Velasquez when, as Intelligence Chief, he felt pressure over the escape of Jemaah Islamiyah bomber Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi from Crame in 2003. The public should ask if this, along with the actions of the new PNP chief, is part of a campaign to clean the image of PNP and its top brass. He should remember that his work goes far beyond gaining the confidence of the public. Hindi sya dapat nagbubuhat ng bangko. He should let his work speak for itself," challenged Kiko.

The announcement of his takeover as the new PNP head from Director General Avelino Razon, Jr. failed to mention Versoza's involvement in the most embarrassing national issue that hit the international headlines in 2003. Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi, believed to be a key player in Al-Queda, took responsibility for various terrorist activities including the December 31, 2000 bombing of the Light Rail Transit station which killed 22 civilians. The PNP blamed Al-Ghozi's escape on negligence and faulty locks at the detention center. An investigation, led by former Justice Sedfrey Ordoñez, vindicated several officials including Versoza. Al-Ghozi was killed in North Cotabato in August of the same year. It was only five days before the Philippine visit of US President George Bush.

"For the sake of argument, let us say that the Indama case is starkly different. Let us say that the Al-Ghozi escape happened five years ago and it involved a criminal suspect and not a protected witness. Still, the PNP chief should explain how someone who is supposedly under their protection can just disappear without their knowledge. That he simply walked out on his guards is proof that he was not given proper protection. The longer it takes for Director General Versoza to release his statement, the more conspiracy theories will surface. Tama na ang pagpapa-pogi. Is he showing his true colors this early?," Kiko emphasized.

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