2 ex-police officials tagged in Cebu lawyer slay lose retirement benefits
The Office of the Ombudsman has forfeited the retirement benefits and annulled the civil service eligibility of two former police officials who were tagged in the ambush-slay of Cebuano lawyer Noel Archival and his two companions in 2014.
In a joint resolution, the anti-graft office found Senior Supt. Romualdo Iglesia and Senior Insp. Joselito Lerion guilty of grave misconduct for driving vehicles bearing license plates that belong to other vehicles and owners.
“Apparently, the use of the plate numbers belonging to other vehicles was used by said respondents as a craft or disguise and evident premeditation that qualify the killing into murder,” said graft investigation and prosecution officer Mara Zipagan whose ruling was approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
“Their acts are not in consonance with the prescribed norms of conduct of a public officer as they have transgressed some established and definite rule of action with a clear intent to violate the law and flagrant disregard of established rule,” she added.
Although the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal from service of Iglesia and Lerion, it could no longer be imposed as the two former officials of the Highway Patrol Group in Central Visayas (HPG-7) were already dropped from the rolls of the Philippine National Police in 2015.
But the accessory penalties that include – perpetual disqualification from re-employment in the government, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of eligibility – stay.
Iglesia and Lerion were also ordered to pay a fine equivalent to their respective salaries for one year, payable to the anti-graft office, and may be deducted from their accrued leave credits or any receivable from their office.
The case for qualified theft against Iglesia and Lerion, on one hand, was dropped by the Ombudsman since the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) failed to establish that the two policemen used impounded vehicles of the Regional Highway Patrol Unit.
“Complainant (NBI) mentioned that a certain policeman certified that the red Toyota Vios is an impounded vehicle under the control and custody of the Regional Highway Patrol Unit, but the former failed to present the pertinent certification to probe the same,” Zipagan explained.
Also cleared of qualified theft by the Ombudsman were PO1 Alex Bacani, Chief Insp. Eduardo Mara and SPO4 Edwin Galan.
Iglesia, Lerion, and Bacani, however, are facing charges of frustrated and multiple murder in relation to Archival’s murder in court.
They remain at large.
Their lawyer Inocencio de la Cerna Jr. expressed hopes that the Ombudsman’s ruling would affect the pending court case.
“I hope we continue to find justice for Atty. Noel Archival but here is this ruling from an independent body such as the Ombudsman. While my two clients were found liable for driving vehicles bearing license plates that belong to other vehicles and owners, not so much was discussed about the murder case, plus Bacani was also cleared of the criminal case,” he told CDN.
“I’m just dismayed that my two clients (Iglesia and Lerion) could no longer be contacted. I hope they realize that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel),” he added.
The Archival family put up reward money for anyone who can give information that can lead to the arrest of the three policemen: P200,000 for Iglesia and Lerion and P100,000 for Bacani.
Archival, along with his aides Candido Miñoza, Alejandro Jaime and Paolo Cortes, was headed back to Cebu City from Dumaguete City when he was ambushed by unidentified persons on board two vehicles on Feb. 18, 2014. Only Cortes survived.
The NBI said the suspects used two impounded vehicles of the Regional Highway Patrol Unit.
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