The Department of Justice will file murder and frustrated murder charges against nine (9) Philippine National Police officers implicated in the death of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and three other persons last March 8, 2021.
This was after probable cause was established against the respondent-lawmen during the preliminary investigation on the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the DOJ.
To be indicted before the Calbayog City regional trial court are PLTCOL. Harry Villar Sucayre, Team Leader, Philippine National Police–Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP–IMEG), and eight (8) other PNP personnel, namely, PMAJ Shyrile Co Tan, PCAPT Dino Laurente Goles, PLT Julio Salcedo Armeza, Jr., and PSSG Neil Matarum Cebu.
Also to be charged are PSSG Edsel Tan Omega, PAT Niño Cuadra Salem, PCPL Julius Udtujan Garcia, and PSSG Randy Caones Merelos, and several John Does.
They will be charged with four (4) counts of murder and one (1) count of frustrated murder in connection with the death of Aquino, PSSg. Rodeo B. Sario (security escort), Dennis Abayon (driver), and Clint John Paul Yauder (passersby), and for the frustrated murder of Mansfield F. Labonite (security escort.)
In the joint resolution dated December 15, 2021, but was only released to reporters on January 20, 2022, the panel of prosecutors ruled that the “defense of denial, alibi and self-defense, interposed by the respondents-PNP personnel, cannot be given weight in light of the positive assertions of the witnesses and the pieces of evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation.”
“As a consequence, the counter-charges for murder, frustrated murder, and attempted murder filed against Ronald Mark F. Aquino and PCPL Ramil A. Rosales were dismissed, as well as the complaint against Ronald Mark F. Aquino for grave threats,” the DOJ said in a statement.
The NBI filed the charges against the lawmen before the DOJ on the strength of evidence gathered by probers, that the incident was an ambush, not a shootout.
Investigation showed that Aquino was on the way to attend the birthday celebration of his son when his vehicle was attacked by armed persons.
After a brief exchange of gunfire, Aquino was hit and died upon reaching the hospital. His two bodyguards were also killed in the ambush.
Also, passerby Yauder, another city hall employee, was killed by a stray bullet inside a passing car driven by his father who was unscathed.
Reports said Aquino and his party “were thinking that the vehicles behind them were tailing them, “while police personnel engaged in the shootout were inspecting “the operational readiness of PNP units in the area.”