The Quezon City People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) has demoted two policemen after they were found guilty of grave misconduct for unlawful arrest and search without proper warrants.

Mayor Joy Belmonte announced that Patrolmen Zaldy Mejos Jr. and Julie Boison received a penalty of one-rank demotion, based on a decision by PLEB District 1 of Quezon City on Administrative Case Number 19-005.

“Sa pagganap ng tungkulin ng ating kapulisan, kaaakibat nito ang responsibilidad na tiyaking legal ang lahat ng pagkilos upang hindi tayo makagawa ng pinsala sa karapatan ng ating kapwa,” said Belmonte.

The complaint stemmed from a complaint of a certain Marissa Torres, who claimed that the two policemen searched her house and arrested her without proper warrants on January 19, 2019.

The policemen denied the charges, using plain view doctrine to justify their action. The two said they were on foot patrol in the vicinity of Torres’ residence when they received report that the complainant had a gun.

Pat. Boison claimed that he noticed a nozzle of a suspected firearm in a black sling bag inside Torres’ sari-sari store, prompting them to enter the house and conduct the search.

The policemen claimed they found a gun and alleged illegal drugs inside the house, prompting them to arrest Torres. The complainant claimed the gun and the illegal drugs were not hers but were merely planted evidence.

The QC PLEB sided with Torres, saying warrantless arrest, search and seizure done by the respondent policemen “cannot be justified under the plain view doctrine.” In its decision, the PLEB said the “plain view doctrine applies when the discovery of evidence is inadvertent.”

The QC PLEB further ruled that Torres was “actually illegally and unlawfully arrested and her residence searched without a warrant.”

“We have no agenda but to dispense justice. Constitutional rights are there to be upheld,” PLEB Executive Officer Atty Rafael Calinisan said.

Meanwhile, Belmonte called on fellow local chief executives to reorganize their respective PLEBs to provide an existing check and balance mechanism to hold erring policemen accountable for their acts.

Calinisan, for his part, appealed to lawmakers to Republic Act No. 9708 which allows the promotion of police officers who have pending administrative cases with the PLEB.

“To strengthen the check and balance mechanisms and to help weed out rotten eggs in the uniformed service, no policeman with pending administrative cases should be promoted,” Calinisan said.