Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct its own investigation into the kidnapping and murder of a Chinese-Filipino trader whose decomposing body was found inside a septic tank in San Pedro, Laguna, on Feb. 23.
Speaking with reporters, De Lima said she would also ask Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and Philippine National Police chief Nicanor Bartolome to place under “restricted custody” the three policemen charged with the murder of Lea Angeles Ng.
“We need to dig deeper. There’s a need for further investigation to make sure that there will be justice given the standing and status of the principal accused,” the justice secretary said.
Ng, who was involved in a lending business, was reported missing on Jan. 20, more than a month before her body was discovered in a septic tank of an abandoned warehouse in Barangay San Vicente, San Pedro town.
The justice secretary said the victim’s husband and her siblings sought her help since the suspects, including the alleged mastermind, Supt. Rommel Miranda, were still in active police service.
“They’re asking for our help given the standing and status of the principal respondent, Rommel Miranda. I understand he [used to be with] the PNP’s Special Action Force and Intelligence Group,” De Lima told reporters.
Miranda, a former spokesperson of the National Capital Region Police Office, has been directed to report to Camp Crame after his relief as deputy chief of the communications and electronic division of the Central Visayas police.
After they went on Awol, the two other suspects—Police Officers 1 Gifford Signap and Otelio Santos Jr.—turned themselves in to their superiors at the Laguna police office on Monday.
“(The suspects) must be under restricted custody which is normally done if PNP officials are under investigation. They should be confined to their quarters and should not be going around freely,” De Lima said.
She said the victim’s family feared that Miranda may harm them since the police officer lived just near the victim’s house in Manila.
De Lima said the NBI should look into the possible criminal liabilities of the caretaker and watchman of the warehouse where the suspects dumped Ng’s body.
She said while it was initially reported that the place was an abandoned warehouse, police investigators disclosed that the area was guarded by a caretaker and a watchman.
“How can it be considered abandoned when there was a caretaker and a security guard? They should be indicted since they supposedly heard that the suspects were laughing before the body was placed inside the septic tank,” De Lima said.
“I suppose they can be considered accessories to the crime,” she added.