THE seven Bulacan policemen ordered charged in court by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the killing of six men they arrested in reported fabricated’ drug operations last February 18 had already been dismissed from service last June, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar announced on Wednesday.
“Ako mismo ang pumirma ng desisyon na tanggalin sa serbisyo ang mga pulis na ito matapos mapatunayan sa aming imbestigasyon na sila ay nagtanim ng droga at baril para palabasin na ang nangyari sa Bulacan ay isang lehitimong operasyon,” the top cop said in a statement.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap ito at hindi ko kukunsintihin ang mga ganitong uri ng pang-aabuso at kalokohan dahil ang mga katulad nila ang sumisira sa aming kampanya laban sa droga at sa pangalan ng inyong Philippine National Police,” he added.
A panel of DOJ prosecutors earlier recommended the filing of criminal charges for six counts of murder and arbitrary detention against the policemen identified as Staff Sergeants Benjie Enconado and Irwin Joy Yuson; Corporals Marlon Martus, Edmund Catubay Jr., Harvy Albino, and Herbert Hernandez and Patrolman Rusco Madla.
Gen. Eleazar said that based on the investigation conducted by the PNP Internal Affairs Service, the six victims were arrested when they happened to pass by the area where the accused policemen were conducting anti-illegal drugs operations last February 13.
The six were then brought to the police station where they were hogtied and detained but were not booked for any offense, the investigation showed.
The victims were then taken on February 18 to a secluded area in Barangay Gaya-Gaya in San Jose del Monte City where they were shot to death.
The PNP-IAS said that it found out that the accused policemen however made it appear that the six victims were drug personalities who died in a legitimate encounter by ‘planting’ illegal drugs and firearms on them.
The DOJ however, dropped the cases of murder and arbitrary detention on eight other local policemen identified as Major Leo dela Rosa, SSgt. Jayson Legaspi, Corporals Jay Marc Leoncio, Constante Escalante Jr., Raymond Bayan, Paul Malgapo and Randy Camitoc, as well as Patrolman Erwin Sabido for lack of probable cause.
Gen. Eleazar said the eight were charged with another grave offense of ‘planting’ drug evidence under Section 29 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and ‘planting’ of guns which is a violation of Section 38 of RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013.
All eight were found guilty and were recommended for dismissal from the service by the PNP-IAS.
According to the top cop, the IAS recommendation was reviewed by the Discipline, Law and Order Division of the Directorate for Personnel Records and Management which drafted the decision for his approval.
Last June, Gen. Eleazar signed the decision to dismiss all the 15 accused Bulacan policemen.
He said that the then chief of police of San Jose del Monte City Police Station, Lieutenant Colonel Gil Domingo was punished with six months suspension for command responsibility.
“Gaya ng lagi nating sinasabi, umiiral ang sistema ng hustisya sa ating bansa at ang rekomendasyon ng Department of Justice na sampahan ng kasong murder ang pitong pulis sa pagkamatay ng anim na katao sa Bulacan, kabilang ang aming desisyon na tanggalin silang lahat sa serbisyo, ay isa na namang patunay dito,” said Gen. Eleazar.
“Hindi kailanman kinunsinti ng inyong PNP ang mga kaso ng pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan sa aming hanay at kasama namin ang DOJ sa paghahanap ng katotohanan at pagbibigay ng hustisya sa ating mga kababayan,” the PNP chief added.
This developed as the Office of the Prosecutor General has instructed government prosecutors to ask the Malolos, Bulacan regional trial court to issue warrants of arrest against the seven policemen.
The cops were indicted for six counts of arbitrary detention under Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and six counts of murder under Article 248 of the same Code.
They were assigned at the San Jose Del Monte City (Bulacan) Police Station, Intelligence Section/City Drug Enforcement Unit (“IS/CDEU”) at the time of the alleged killings.
Their indictment stemmed from “the baseless and unlawful detention, and eventual killing, of six innocent victims: Chamberlain S. Domingo, Chadwin D.R. Santos, Edmar S. Aspirin, Richard C. Salgado, Erwin N. Mergal, and Jim Joshua Cordero,” a press statement from the DOJ read.
“The filing of the charges arose from three (3) fabricated buy-bust operations conducted by the said police officers supposedly on 14, 15, and 18 February 2020 against the victims, but in truth and in fact, no buy-bust operation was ever conducted against them,” the statement added. By ALFRED DALIZON & HECTOR LAWAS