Actor Jake Cuenca was arrested in the Philippines this weekend after allegedly ramming a police car with his own vehicle and then fleeing the scene. The 33-year-old has been charged with reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property, according to a report by PhilStar Global. The incident took place in Mandaluyong City on Saturday night.
Cuenca was born in San Jose, California but raised in Manila, Philippines, where he is a prominent athlete and actor. He has appeared in Filipino productions since the late 1990s, though none that most American viewers would be familiar with. He is accused of ramming his Rubicon Jeep into a police car during a narcotics operation on Saturday night at around 9 p.m. local time. Police were in the middle of a sting operation when Cuenca hit one of their cars, then drove off in a hurry without stopping to check for injuries or damage.
Police say that they pursued Cuenca through the city in a chase that they feared would further endanger bystanders. They decided to try to stop him with gunfire, but they ended up hitting an innocent civilian instead - a driver for the rideshare service Grab.
"Police chased him. Our personnel had to disable the vehicle and fired at one of the tires during the chase. A stray bullet hit a Grab driver," admitted Eastern Police District director Brig. Gen. Matthew Baccay in a public statement. The driver is 43-year-old Eleazar Martinito, who was rushed to the hospital and is now reportedly in stable condition.
"It's a very unfortunate incident. Our personnel might have had an adrenaline rush when the accident took place. We confiscated marijuana during the sting," Baccay explained.
Baccay also mentioned that he suspected a medical report might indicate that Cuenca was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the crash. However, he admitted that police did not find anything in Cuenca's car after it was impounded. Cuenca's father told reporters that his son suffered injuries in the crash.
As for Cuenca, he said that he sped away from the scene out of fear. He said that there was nothing to identify the undercover officers as police, and once they gave chase he feared for his life. It is not clear when the actor is due back in court.