Court orders probe into death of cop in massacre caseBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—A Quezon City court has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the death in detention of a policeman who was among those charged with multiple murder in connection with the Maguindanao massacre but also a potential prosecution witness.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Regional Trial Court Branch 221 noted that an independent investigation would “settle once and for all the doubts” clouding the death of PO2 Hernane Decipulo Jr.
The judge said in her July 6 order that the investigation was also meant “to assuage the feelings of the accused’s bereaved family and co-accused police officers.”
The NBI was given 15 days, upon receipt of the court’s order, to carry out the probe. The NBI was given five days after concluding its investigation to submit its report.
Decipulo, a member of the 1508th Provincial Mobile Group assigned to Maguindanao, died last Feb. 6 after supposedly jumping from the roof of a detention building at the Quezon City Jail Annex at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.
The court’s order was issued upon the request of the prosecution, which noted that an appeal had been previously made to transfer accused policemen, particularly those listed as prosecution witnesses or possible prosecution witnesses, to the detention center of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Camp Crame.
Decipulo was among those police officers whose transfer to another detention facility was being sought.
The prosecution’s transfer plea was made ostensibly to ensure the security of the witnesses by holding them in a facility separate from where members of the Ampatuan clan, who are accused of masterminding the massacre, are being held.
In her order, the judge noted that the “intimation for a stricter security measure” by jail warden Senior Insp. John Conrad Marcelino Basilio appeared to be a “tacit admission that they have been lax in their sworn duty to secure the life and limbs of all detention prisoners under his authority.”
“The authorities claimed that depression was the apparent cause of Decipulo’s alleged ‘suicide’ but the prosecution cannot just take their word for it and turn a blind eye on the real situation inside the jail facility as they cannot discount the possibility that some other reason may have triggered the tragic incident,” the judge said.
Following Decipulo’s death in February, 14 other accused policemen asked the court to order their transfer to the Headquarters Support Service’s Custodial Service Unit in Camp Crame, citing low morale and fear that they might be harmed by their fellow accused.