WHEN Sec. Mike Defensor introduced his audio expert, Jonathan Tiongco, to the media this morning, he took pains emphasizing that it was Tiongco who had vehemently opposed the appointment of Angelo Reyes to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
By pointing this out, Defensor wanted it known that no one could accuse Tiongco of being a mercenary; the guy had, in fact, objected to a key Cabinet appointment made by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and he is credible. He is a sound engineer schooled in Japan with some 12 years of experience in digital audio engineering.
But a dossier from the Philippine National Police (PNP) shows Tiongco has a checkered past as it lists a string of criminal cases against him, ranging from grave threats to murder.
And for anti-crime advocate Tessie Ang-See, Tiongco's credibility is suspect. Ang-See told PCIJ that in March 2004, Tiongco approached her to ask for her support in the cases against Reyes, who was then anti-kidnapping czar. Reyes was the subject of criminal and administrative cases filed in the Ombudsman for, among others, illegal detention, multiple murder, kidnapping, and grave coercion. These charges stemmed from the kidnappings in late 2003 of two Chinese-Filipinos: two-year-old Gian Jethro Chua and corporate executive Betty Chua Sy.
To convince her, Ang-See said, Tiongco showed a photograph of Gian Jethro's kidnapper who he claimed was a close-in bodyguard of Reyes. He also gave her a video of the crime scene where a bank robber was killed, alleging that it was a rubout and that Reyes had a hand in it. The purpose, Ang See said, was to show Reyes's alleged involvement in kidnapping and robbery cases.
But when Ang-See had these independently examined, she was told that these were altered. Ang-See said no to Tiongco's request for her to support the cases against Reyes.
After she refused, Ang-See said, Tiongco began sending her threats through SMS. This was also the time, according to Ang-See, when she was included as one of the respondents in the supplemental case filed against Reyes regarding the case of kidnap victim Sy. (That case has since been dismissed.)
Early this year, when the Commission on Appointments was deliberating on Reyes's DILG appointment, some members of the body also expressed doubts about Tiongco's credibility. Sen. Dick Gordon said the CA had gathered documents showing Tiongco's string of criminal cases and his opposition to Reyes's appointment should simply be thrown out.
According to the PNP dossier, Jonathan Mallorca Tiongco, 35, had 11 criminal cases either pending in or resolved by various courts in Iloilo, Pampanga, and different cities in Metro Manila as of 2003. The cases include murder and frustrated murder, homicide, illegal possession of firearm, carnapping, grave threat, and estafa.
Six of the cases were dismissed by the courts either for lack of interest on the part of the complainants or after Tiongco secured a settlement. He was acquitted in one case; one case was archived after police failed to locate Tiongco. As of 2003, three cases were still being heard.
Tiongco was born in Jaro, Iloilo and has known addresses in Fairview, Quezon City and San Fernando, Pampanga. He has four children, two each with his two spouses. The police know him to have several aliases: Jaytee, JT, Jeff, Jonathan Monarca Tiongco, and John Thomas Mendoza Tiongco.
The following is the PNP's summary of Tiongco's criminal cases:
1. Homicide, Pasay City, 1997. Tiongco was accused of shooting a barangay tanod who had responded to an altercation between the suspect and another man.
Status: Ongoing trial.
2. Multiple attempted murder, Iloilo City, 1996. Tiongco was charged with shooting three men. Police say one of the three men was a barangay captain who had interceded on behalf of a family with whom Tiongco's own family were involved in a land dispute.
Status: Ongoing trial.
3. Murder, three counts, and frustrated murder, Iloilo City, 1994. Tiongco and his co-accused were charged with shooting four individuals, killing three of them. He was finally arrested in 2002.
Status: Tiongco was acquitted.
4. Violation of R.A. 6539 (Anti-carnapping Law), Angeles City, Pampanga, 2001. Tiongco and two companions were apprehended by city police while in possession of a car not registered in any of their names. A month earlier the theft was reported to the police.
5. Violation of the gun ban provisions of the Omnibus Election Code, San Fernando, Pampanga, 2001. Tiongco was arrested after brandishing a handgun in an altercation with the complainant while the gun ban was in force during the election period.
Status: Ongoing trial.
6. Violation of PD 1866 (Illegal possession of firearm and ammunition), San Fernando, Pampanga, 2001. This charge stemmed from the same incident described in #5, for which he was sued for violating the election gun ban.
7. Grave threat, San Fernando, Pampanga, 2001. This charge involved the same incident in #5.
Status: Settled, then dismissed.
8. Violation of PD 1866 (Illegal possession of firearm and ammunition), Iloilo City. The dossier does not have details of this case.
9. Grave threat, Pasay City, 1997. This involved the same incident in #1.
10. Violation of BP 22 (Bouncing checks law), San Juan, Metro Manila, 1992.
Status: Archived after Tiongco was not found by the police.
11. Swindling/Estafa, Makati City, 1993. Tiongco was accused of failing to remit some P54,800 in company funds.