MANILA, Philippines?The Office of the Ombudsman has filed criminal charges against policemen who allegedly tortured the Abadilla 5 following their 1996 arrest on suspicion that they were behind the killing of a dreaded Marcos-era police intelligence officer.
The policemen are facing charges of four counts of maltreatment of prisoners, one count of violation of the rights of arrested persons and one count of delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities.
The cases were based on a complaint filed by the Abadilla 5?Lenido Lumanog, Cesar Fortuna, Joel de Jesus, Rameses de Jesus and Augusto Santos?who have since been convicted of murder in the death of Rolando Abadilla, intelligence chief of the Metropolitan Command of what was then the Philippine Constabulary under the Marcos dictatorship.
The five men have appealed their conviction, and have alleged that they were tortured into confessing to killing Abadilla. Their supporters also point out that the communist assassins from the Alex Boncayao Brigade have admitted being behind Abadilla?s death.
Charged before the Sandiganbayan were Senior Superintendent Romulo Sales; Senior Supt. Bartolome Baluyut; Chief Inspector Robert Ganzon; Chief Insp. Romeo Regis; Senior Inspector Anthony Rodolfo; Inspector Rogelio Castillo; Senior Police Officer 4 Dario Anasco; SPO2 Pio Tarala; SPO1 Edelberto Nicanor; Insp. S. Ceddamon; SPO4 Ramira; SPO2 C. Nocum; SPO1 P. Pobre; Police Officer 3 Juanito Cabiling; and PO3 Wilfredo Hidalgo.
In the indictments, the Office of the Ombudsman alleged that the policemen, after unlawfully arresting the suspects, maltreated and inflicted bodily injuries on them.
The police officials also failed to have the suspects assisted by counsel, and did not advise them of their rights, including their right to have counsel of their own choice, it added. The suspects were also not allowed visits or conferences with their immediate families during their period of detention, it further said.
It also alleged that the policemen erred when they failed to deliver the suspects to the proper judicial authorities within 36 hours following their arrest.
The Office of the Ombudsman recommended the filing of criminal charges against the policemen earlier this month following renewed calls from the Abadilla 5 and their families to resolve their complaints against the law enforcers, which had been pending before various government agencies for 14 years.
It found, among others, that the men's claim that they were beaten up was backed by sufficient evidence, primarily medico legal findings from the Commission on Human Rights.